Ouachita Baptist University
Down Syndrome Children in Education
Every day Connor would come in with a huge smile to greet me. His sweet voice in the morning made my job worth waking up groggy, and sleepy EVERY morning at 7:30. Connor was just like other 5 year old boys. He loves to play with cars, trains and trucks. Con-Man loves to eat Cocoa Puffs and watch Thomas the Train in the mornings. And Connor even loved to cuddle with his momma, Mandy because he is a “Momma’s boy,” as his mother likes to say. Yet, unlike other boys his age, Connor has Down Syndrome. The National Association for Down Syndrome defines Down Syndrome as “a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development.” (NADS, 2012)
Down Syndrome is a genetic disease that is diagnosed shortly after birth where a child is born with an extra chromosome. This genetic defect affects children's cognitive development in that the child has a delay in how messages are retained. According to Helen Bee and Denise Boyd in “The Growing Child,” children from age 2-4 begin to develop a sense of communication skills and “sophisticated role-play and debates….” These children also are learning how to interact with other children and play while communicating and thinking with others like they haven't before. This is where Jean Piaget’s theory comes in. Piaget’s work does not give the researcher a full description of child development, but the researcher gives us the major changes that occur. The problem with Piaget’s work is that studies have shown that kids with Down Syndrome develop cognitively later than others. Not only that,“studies since Piaget’s time have suggested that he underestimated the cognitive capacity of infants. The amount of children that get Down Syndrome are dependent upon many factors, including women's ages as shown in the graph. As a women ages, the prevalence of having a child with Downs increases exponentially, as shown in the graph above.
Down Syndrome can cause a delayed development of speech and even physically alter a child’s physical features. Most commonly children with Down’s have similar features: slanted eyes, lower muscle formation and facial flattening. Socially, Down Syndrome can cause children to become shy, and introverted. These children may have an issue meeting new people and expressing themselves outwardly with those they do not know very well. Yet, Down Syndrome children are more like normal people because unlike other diseases like Autism, Down Syndrome is more of a physical and cognitive disease that effects physical features and delayed development. Down Syndrome children can still learn just like other children, it just may take longer depending on the child. Like Connor, practice and repetition helped him learn the best. All Down Syndrome children are different depending on the severity. According to the article published by Christopher Lemons and Douglas Fuchs, once given a chance and the help needed, Down Syndrome children whom participated in the study grew exponentially in their cognitive learning of material. Once given a chance and once given aid during work, “a majority of children demonstrated statistically significant growth on letter sounds, taught sight words, and decodable words. Children with Down syndrome who entered the study with more advanced word identification skills made greater gains in decodable word reading; those with more advanced phoneme segmentation skills made greater gains in nonsense word reading. Overall, findings suggest that incorporating elements of explicit, systematic reading instruction into interventions for children with Down syndrome may be beneficial for many.” (Fuchs & Lemons, 2010-2013)
Children with Down Syndrome are often looked at to have major social hinderances. Down Syndrome children can be shy and due to societal standards. Down Syndrome children are