Down Syndrome is a congenital disorder arising from a chromosome defect. It arises from a defect involving chromosome 21, usually an extra copy (trisomy-21).
Speech and language present many challenges for children with Down syndrome but there is information that can help infants and toddlers begin learning to communicate and help young children progress in speech and language.
Although most children with Down syndrome learn to speak and will use speech as their primary means of communication, they will understand language and have the desire to communicate well before they are able to speak.
Total communication, using sign language, pictures, and/or electronic synthesized speech can serve as a transitional communication system. Other important pre-speech and pre-language skills are the ability to imitate and echo sounds; turn-taking skills (learned through games such as peek-a-boo); visual skills (looking at speakers and objects); auditory skills (listening to music, speech, and speech sounds for lengthening periods); tactile skills (learning about touch, exploring objects in the mouth); oral motor skills (using the tongue, moving the lips); and cognitive skills (understanding object permanence and cause and effect relationships).