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Down Syndrome Awareness Week

November 5, 2011


November 1-7 marks this year’s National Down Syndrome Awareness Week. During this week Canadians are encouraged to both raise awareness and celebrate the lives of people with Down syndrome.


A few important things to remember:

-The correct name of this diagnosis is Down syndrome                                                                                   (there is no apostrophe or capitalized ‘s’ in syndrome)

 – It’s always important to use person-first language.                                                                                            A disability does not define a person; therefore the emphasis should always be on the individual. Thus, the appropriate reference should be ‘a person with Down  syndrome’ rather than ‘a Down syndrome person.’

   –Avoid generalizing                                                                                                                                                          Don’t reinforce stereotypes that all people with Down syndrome are alike. There is a diversity of strengths, talents and capabilities among individuals with Down syndrome, just as can be described for the general population.

The SLP’s role:

The overarching goal of the SLP will be to establish an effective way to communicate between a child and the world around them. Therapy will always be designed to fit the individual child’s needs, however there are some general considerations that will form the foundation for a speech and language program. Common speech and language challenges emerge for a person with Down syndrome because of cognitive delays and low muscle tone (in the face, jaw, mouth and tongue) associated with the syndrome. This usually leads to the child have more advanced receptive language (i.e., ability to understand language), and more difficulty with expressive language (i.e., ability to use language). Additionally, the child may also have greater difficulties with articulation (i.e., producing speech sounds correctly), which can make them harder to understand. It should be noted that other children face these speech and language problems as well. Evaluating what the child’s strengths and challenges are will help the SLP to develop an individualized treatment plan to meet their communication needs. Communication not only includes speech, however, and thus therapy may also involve working on facial expressions, gestures, and alternative systems, such as sign language or computer-based systems.

(Information retrieved from:

Events in the Edmonton Area:

Edmonton will be advocating Down Syndrome Awareness Week by celebrating their 7th annual Buddy Walk. Sponsored by the Edmonton Down Syndrome Society, the Buddy Walk will take place on Sunday, November 6, 2011 in Hawrelak Park. Please visit or call 780-944-4224 for registration packages.

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