Ds Awareness Day#4: Can Individuals with Ds Learn?

Short answer: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! 

All individuals with Down syndrome experience some degree of cognitive delays, from mild to moderate. Each individual is different, as are all students, therefore their strengths and weaknesses, talents and interests, will also vary.

The most important influence on early development, for all children, is daily interaction and activities within the family. Socially appropriate behavior should be encouraged and expected right from the beginning. Children with Down syndrome benefit from boundary setting in the same way as other children.

Parenting a child with Down syndrome will, in many ways, not be any different from parenting any other child. 

The formal education for children with Down syndrome begins almost from birth. The learning journey often begins with Early Intervention programs that include physical, occupational and speech therapy. These support the development of some of the most important early childhood skills.

What about school?

In the past, many children with Down syndrome attended separate schools or separate programs that focused only on students with intellectual disabilities. Research shows that the majority of children with Down syndrome make the best progress when they are educated alongside their typical learning peers.

Individuals with Down syndrome generally take longer to learn new things. New skills may need to be broken down into smaller steps than for other learners, and more repetition may be needed to retain learned skills. Children with Down syndrome may require more structure in their activities so that they can work independently in class.

A student with Down syndrome is more likely to experience success in a school where inclusion is embraced and supported as part of the school culture, and where the different learning needs of all the students are acknowledged and properly addressed.

The whole school benefits from including students with physical and intellectual disabilities as part of the school community. 


Teaching Peter is a group activity! Everyone in the family takes turns working on reading, writing, math and spelling words. Peter benefits from reinforcement of the same information from different people. Here Michael is helping Peter with his math homework.

Peter’s Story:

Peter missed much school in the early years due to his illnesses. He has struggled with learning academic basics, but also shows us that learning is something we do each and every day. Peter participates in all school subjects with his 2nd grade peers, and also has dedicated one-on-one and small group learning opportunities to help solidify his academic foundation. While he struggles with academics, he excels at those magical “soft skills”. Peter is energetic and resilient, has phenomenal coping skills, and has learned how to function in his class and the broader school community. Peter is an extrovert, and likely knows everyone in school! He is well loved by students and staff. He LOVES school!




2 thoughts on “Ds Awareness Day#4: Can Individuals with Ds Learn?

  1. Do people think that Down’s syndrome children all learn at the same pace? Having worked with MYARC in school
    I met many people across the spectrum from low to high functioning. Why would people assume all children with a disability are the same?
    Thank you for your posts, I always enjoy traveling with Peter through you😊

    • Oh they definitely do not learn at the same pace – i totally agree with you. Peter is the turtle in the group his age….and that is ok…..he is faster in learning soft skills, and slower in the academics….slow and steady. Some other kids we know are total whiz kids! Just like any other group of kids – they come in all size, shapes and talents. So glad to get your comments 🙂

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