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Supporting A Child Who Has Down's Syndrome


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Hi, there's a little girl who has down's syndrome who is likely to be joining our setting in the near future. We want to do our very best to support her, but we don't have much expertise. Obviously we will be liaising with our early years team to get their advice.


Does anyone have any experience of children with this and could give us some ideas?


We have a member of staff keen on makaton, so that will help with her communication needs. At the moment she is not yet walking, I assume she is likely to be delayed with that, so access to the outdoors might be tricky. How could we help her access that? Also we have a stage area that could be quite dangerous for her.


I would really welcome any advice from you wonderful people!

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the best source of advice will be her parents...speak to them ask them questions ..they will have had to deal with all these issues before...if the stage is dangerous ask what they think she will do(does she have an awareness of danger?). it might be a great resource for her to cruise around if she cant get up there on her own then its probably not a problem. Is she crawling? if so outside shouldnt be a problem just need the right clothes. have you done a home visit? go and see what her parents do already (is portage involved?) if she is going to learn makaton then (imo) everyone should learn it ..all the staff and all the children and any support staff she comes into contact with otherwise how will she communicate effectively? if she can only talk with one person then thats not inclusion! :o dont be afraid to ask her parents they wont think badly of you just say you want to ask to make the transition as easy as possible for their daughter. I'm sure this little one will have you all wrapped round her little finger by easter! xD

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Hi its great that you are thinking ahead and want to be prepared for this lovely little girl to join you.

The first thing i would do is discuss with parent/carers about her likes, dislikes, mobility issues and any support required.

Often with a child with Downs Syndrome they may also have other medical conditions such as poor eye sight, heart conditions and feeding needs although not necessarily.

Do they already have a team a round the child book for you to look at.

It may be useful to ask if she already uses a signing system, such as Sign along, Makaton or BSL, before undertaking any specified training.

If she is not walking does she have an Occupational Therapist that maybe able to loan you equipment for the setting, we have done this in the past and they were very helpful.

Definatly speak to your Sencan Team that can offer you support and guidance.

Could also google The National Downs Syndrome Society for other publications/leaflets etc.


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Thanks guys.


I am quite close to her mum, and have been gradually asking her about what we can do, but I don't want to push too hard (don't want her to feel pressured to join us before she is ready). There's a new baby in the home so not quite the moment for a home visit yet.


She is bottom shuffling at the moment, crawling would be easier I guess!


Good point about everyone needing the makaton, I will ask her mum about what signing method she is using and perhaps she could even come in and show staff how it's done.


Good idea about equipment for walking.


Yes, she has had heart problems so we need to be aware of physical needs too.

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try and make contact with all the professionals involved asap (when you know she is definitely coming)they can then send you their recent reports and recommendations. you will need to do a care plan for her and an iep (use the info from the professionals to start) if she has a portage worker they may well do a 'passport' for her. this has all her likes and dislikes/ favourite toys/foods/things she doesnt like etc etc ...contact your senco if she doesn't have one and then use on your home visit for an initial overview. Mum may take a bit of time to decide on wether to send her, she will probably be nervous of anyone else looking after her daughter. Do you both have regular contact with a health visitor...ours often help in situations like this to support parents and tell them how it will help their childrens development. If she's bum shuffling(she may not crawl) then just go round the setting on your bottom and see what it looks like from her perspective...any dangers...small items not suitable for mouthing or exciting inviting spaces to go and explore!

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