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.
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!