How Speech Pathologists Help Children with Down Syndrome
When Should Speech-Language Pathology Services Begin? What Is Early Language Intervention?
Speech-language pathology services can begin in infancy. Treatment may involve sound stimulation, language stimulation accompanying play, feeding, oral motor exercises and/or other techniques. It should always include the family as a partner in treatment because the family is the primary teacher of speech and language. Early language intervention (ELI) is the designation given for services provided to infants and toddlers from birth through the end of age two. Speech-pathology services should be part of a comprehensive overall treatment plan for infants and toddlers. This may involve sessions at home or in a center, and may be part of a team approach involving physical, occupational and other therapists working together with the family.
A government-sponsored early intervention program is available in all communities in the U.S. Speech-language and other therapy services are often provided at these programs for eligible children under age three, based on disability and an evaluation. Most children with Down syndrome qualify for speech-language services. After age three, there may be continuing services sponsored through the school system with an IEP or through community agencies, private practitioners, university clinics, medical centers and other sources.
How do you find a qualified speech-language pathologist?
Qualified SLPs are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and are licensed by the state. When a professional is certified, they can use CCC-SLP (Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology) following their name.
A CCC-SLP Has:
- Completed a master’s degree in an accredited program.
- Completed required hours of clinical practice internship.
- Passed a national certification examination.
Families may receive services through Child Find, the health department, or school system in their local area. Those organizations will either have professionals associated with them or be able to refer parents to local professionals. Members of local Down syndrome support groups can often refer parents to speech-language pathologists in your area who have experience working with children with Down syndrome. If you are in Central Mississippi, please consider joining CMDSS to connect with parents here in Mississippi.
If you are looking for early language intervention services, please visit our Early Intervention page to see a list of Suggested Professionals and resources.