Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome is a genetic condition. People living with Down Syndrome are born with an extra copy of chromosome 21. This leads to altered physical characteristics, some level of developmental delay and intellectual disability.

Some common characteristics include:

  • Physical – nearly all people with Down Syndrome have an upward slant of the eyes, and a rounded, flatter profile. Individuals with Down Syndrome are usually smaller in size than their peers.
  • Delayed development – everyone with Down Syndrome will experience some degree of delay in learning, but the extent and specific areas of delay vary from person to person

Programming Considerations

  • Explanations of program or activity rules and skills should be structured, consistent and predictable.
  • Less confusion will occur if information is presented visually as well as verbally.
  • Frequent reinforcement and consistent feedback will help in providing a sense of achievement in activities.
  • Make activities fun and keep them moving to keep their attention.
  • Some people are non-verbal but will use sign language, Makaton or Compic.
  • They are usually very athletic and flexible if encouraged to participate fully and if they are doing something they find exciting.
  • Participants with Down Syndrome have varying abilities to achieve and respond well to stimulation.

Strategies for Inclusion

  • Do not assume what a participant can or cannot do.
  • Ask if they need assistance and help them with those things.
  • Maintain encouragement and keep goals achievable.

Behaviour Management Issues

  • May be very stubborn so distractions work well to modify behaviour.

Further information

Down Syndrome Victoria –