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SEN toolkit for children with Down syndrome

Information, activities, strategies and resources to help support children with Down syndrome.

Some facts about Down syndrome

  • Down syndrome - also known as Down's syndrome - is the most common form of learning disability. 
  • Two babies are born every day with Down syndrome in the UK - that equates to one in 900 live births.
  • It is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome. A baby born with Down syndrome has 47 instead of 46 chromosomes.
  • Physical characteristics can vary. Each child inherits his or her family looks/characteristics. 
  • Children vary as widely in their development as typically developing children and each has individual talents and aptitudes. Environmental factors and upbringing play a critical role as for any child.
  • Children have learning difficulties, but these can vary from mild to severe. 
  • Most children manage well in mainstream schools given additional support and differentiated activities when appropriate.
  • Most children benefit from being with typically developing peer groups who provide models for speech and language and social skills.
  • Children with more significant difficulties benefit from attending a special school.
  • Progress for children with Down syndrome does not decline as they get older nor do they plateau in their development. However, they develop more slowly than their peers, arriving at each stage of development at a later age and staying there for longer. 
  • Certain medical problems are more common such as hearing impairment, visual impairment, respiratory problems, coughs, colds, lower immune system, thyroid disorder, 40-50% of babies are born with heart problems, coeliac disease.
  • People with Down syndrome are capable of forming all types of relationships be it friendship, love or a dislike of someone.
  • People with Down syndrome are living longer. The approximate life span now is 60 to 70 years.

National and local information and links

Physical and self-help

Children with Down syndrome often experience a delay in their motor development and have some specific weaknesses which need to be considered when offering them activities.

Personal, social and emotional

Children with Down syndrome are usually very friendly sociable children. They enjoy being with their peers.

It can sometimes be difficult to know how to talk with the children around them to explain why they sometimes behave the way they do.

Language and communication

Children with Down syndrome are usually keen and motivated to communicate with others around them but often their communication skills can take longer to develop.

Characteristics of learning

Children with Down syndrome enjoy exploring the world around them and learning from hands-on experiences as do all young children.