Sunday, February 3, 2013

Oman Doctor’s column: Learners with Down syndrome

from The Week, Oman:
Children with Down syndrome are capable learners who are excited and eager to learn. They just need to be given the opportunity to excel. They may learn at a slower pace, but are more than capable of learning. They are strong visual learners. This means that they understand what they see better than what they hear.The average IQ for children with Down syndrome ranges from 25 to 80, whereas the average IQ for a Down’s Syndrome student is around 50. In children without a mental disability, the average IQ would be around 100.
Children with Down Syndrome have specific points associated with their learning development:They are visual learners.
They understand a lot more than they can say.
They are able to follow classroom rules and routines.
They need help to remember instructions - shorter phrases or visual clues.
They have the same feelings as any other child.
Teacher’s expectations of behaviour, attitude and ability need to remain high.

Children with Down Syndrome can learn. However, we need to make compromises so that their educational needs can be met in the classroom.  Since they are visual learners, teaching reading to students with Down syndrome should be characterised by a strong emphasis on visual learning. Visual demonstrations, pictures and illustrations can also be successfully used to assist in providing effective instruction in other subject areas of the curriculum. Lessons in phonics should be included in the curriculum for the student with Down syndrome.
The use of manipulatives and activity learning can be beneficial in the development of number concepts. The use of physical demonstrations and activities are important when teaching math concepts.
Students with Down syndrome generally demonstrate good social skills, which can be utilized to increase learning and teaching opportunities. When speaking to a student with Down syndrome, it is important to speak directly to them using clear language and short sentences. You should allow adequate time for the child to process what you have said and respond. Positive reinforcements should be used for students with Down syndrome to boost their self-esteem and positive learning experience. This should be done both at home and school.
Children with Down syndrome usually need special education services. These services are available in Oman.
These services may include:Special education sessions
Physical therapy
Occupational therapy
Speech therapy
Behaviour therapy

In the last ten years in Oman, things have changed drastically for children with Down syndrome. They are getting the opportunities they need to learn and to be a part of the community. There have been special schools opening as well as certain schools under the Ministry of Education starting programmes for children with Down syndrome. In some cases, they even work when they get older. They just need to be given the opportunity to show their talents and skills.

For more information on this topic, email your queries to Dr Kawthar Hameed al Balushi at

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