Speech clarity is independence! This is my favorite tag line and explanation of what I do as a Speech-Language Pathologist. If we can communicate consistently so others can readily understand, we can be successful. Much is written about young children learning speech and language, but far less is discussed about simple communication expectations. Is it really a child’s turn to talk when we ask questions? Do we really think students can answer our questions? Do we know they can speak to peers, teachers, and bosses?
When we focus on challenges and goals we can easily forget to include simple, yet immensely important, communication opportunities. These can be found in greetings, small talk, discussions about the future, and everyday humor. These must be practiced to become natural, but the practice isn’t as hard as we think. It’s actually really easy. One of my favorite examples of how to do this is by helping children and adolescents participate in their own Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Not just attending his/her IEP but speaking at their own IEP. There are many ways to prepare for this, but here is a wonderful video example of what I mean.
You may notice these few things (and probably more): capability, readiness, hard-work, humor, PRIDE, surprise, joy, and hope (a bit flowery, but hope is the word for the tear in my eye and maybe yours too). I do not mean this to be a feel-good tactic, but as a simple acknowledgment that we can do better and must assume those with Down syndrome can too.