Generally speaking, children with Down syndrome develop more slowly than their peers, arriving at each stage of development at a later age and staying there for longer. Consequently, the gap between children with Down syndrome and their peers will widen with age. The degree of delay varies across developmental areas – motor, social, communication, cognition and self help. This is described as a specific learning profile associated with the condition – or a pattern of strengths and weaknesses. However children with Down syndrome will also vary as widely in their development and progress as typically developing children and each will have their own individual talents and aptitudes.

It is important that this specific learning profile is recognised in order that the most appropriate strategies are used so that children with Down syndrome are able to develop their knowledge, learn new skills and be included into school as effectively as possible. This profile incorporates the following strengths and weaknesses:-

Areas of strength:

  • Strong visual awareness and visual learning skills.
  • Ability to learn and use sign, gesture and visual support.
  • Ability to learn and use the written word.
  • Ability to learn from pictorial, concrete & practical materials.
  • Keen to communicate and socialise with others.
  • Tendency to model behaviour and attitudes from peers and adults.
  • Structure & routine

Factors that inhibit learning:

  • Auditory and visual impairment.
  • Delayed motor skills – fine and gross.
  • Speech and language impairment.
  • Short term and working memory weaknesses.
  • Shorter concentration span.
  • Difficulties with consolidation and retention.
  • Difficulties with generalisation, thinking and reasoning.
  • Sequencing difficulties.
  • Avoidance strategies.