Down Syndrome

Common difficulties & classroom strategies

Down Syndrome is caused by an extra chromosome

Instead of the usual 46, a person with Down’s Syndrome has 47.

Down Syndrome is found in about 1 out of every 1,000 live births every year. It occurs by chance at conception and is irreversible. All children with Down Syndrome will have some degree of learning difficulty ranging from the mild to the severe. They vary as widely in their development and progress as typically developing peers.

As with any child, environmental factors play an important part in development and attainment. Generally speaking, pupils with Down Syndrome develop more slowly than their peers, arriving at each stage of development at a later age and staying there for longer. The developmental gap between pupils with Down Syndrome and their peers widens with age.

Common Difficulties

Children with Down Syndrome may experience difficulties in the following areas:
  • Speech and language development: speech production is delayed relative to comprehension; vocabulary learning develops faster than grammar; speech intelligibility is often poor; and speech often remains telegraphic (missing the little words). Language is needed for thinking, remembering, and reasoning and for friends and communication and its delay has an effect on many areas.
  • Short term auditory memory: difficulties in remembering verbal instructions and rules.
  • Generalisation and flexible thought.
  • Auditory and visual impairment. Many young people will suffer fluctuating hearing loss due to glue ear.
  • Concentration span.
  • Fine and gross motor skills: difficulties in recording tasks, handling small equipment, cutting out, construction.
  • Sensitivity to failure and emotional cues: good at picking up anxiety and negative feelings towards them.


The Down’s Syndrome Educational Trust (Downs Ed) and the Down’s Syndrome Association have produced software packages for children with Down’s Syndrome that pay particular attention to the concept of teaching reading to teach talking. These packages also demonstrate the requirements of the task before asking the child to interact with the programme.

The Down’s Syndrome Association website is and the DownsEd website is

Getting Started

Whether you are a school looking for psychology support, or a parent seeking support for your child, get in touch. Our friendly staff are here to answer any initial questions you may have.
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