Best Method for those with Down's Syndrome

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Best Method for those with Down's Syndrome

Post by Elizabeth » Sat Sep 05, 2015 1:06 pm

Last week I met someone who is involved in literacy with children with Down's Syndrome. We had an interesting conversation about the best way to teach these children to read. She suggested that research shows that whole word teaching is best. I told her that I did not have direct experience or know of relevant research, but that I had met people who told me they used phonics to teach these children to read successfully. She agreed with me when I pointed out that they would not be able to read unfamiliar words without phonics, but it would get them to a reading age of around seven years old. That could be a good result for some of them.

Later she emailed this to me:
I thought I would send you a link to the article and further information about the reading and langauge programme that was trialled with children with Down syndrome:

It evaluated a treatment approach that used a combination of reading and language activities, with components of synthetic phonics and whole word reading being combined within the reading strand.
By Googling, I found this:
We encourage early success and confidence in this "look and say" whole word way and then move on to give the children a more sophisticated understanding of the reading process by pointing out the letter-sound correspondences in the words that they can already read correctly. Knowledge of letter sounds enables a child to work out an unfamiliar printed word by themselves. We draw their attention to the initial or onset sounds by finding two words in their sight vocabulary with the same initial or onset sounds. Recent work has suggested that children break the words into onset and rime such as str and ing for string, str being the onset and ing the rime (Goswami & Bryant, 1990). In 1982 we observed that our early readers were breaking the words up in this way for themselves as their experience with reading words grew.
There have been more threads about this in the past, which can be found by using the search button on this message forum.

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Susan Godsland
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Re: Best Method for those with Down's Syndrome

Post by Susan Godsland » Sun Sep 06, 2015 3:43 pm

Here's what I've found out about teaching reading and Down's syndrome

R + P interventions (interventions based on Reading Recovery methodology + Phonological Awareness training)

Phonology with Reading programme (Nuffield Foundation.Language4Reading) was a research project using an R+P intervention with at-risk children. It combined Jolly Phonics materials (for teaching 36 GPCs over 20 weeks) with 'oral phonological awareness' exercises (Hatcher's Sound Linkage), plus 'direct teaching in [global] sight word recognition' and immediate reading practice using real books, levelled using Hatcher's whole language banding system. ''The Teaching Assistant monitored the child’s reading ability by taking a running record of the child reading a book at the instructional level in each individual session. One new book was introduced per session, which the child attempted to read independently, before finishing off with guided reading of the new book''. The resulting research paper by Bowyer-Crane et al (2007) revealed that, 'At the end of the intervention, more than 50% of at-risk children remain in need of literacy support' ... x/abstract
N.B. the actual Jolly Phonics programme teaches a Basic Code of 42 GPCs in as little as 7 weeks, with phonically decodable words and sentences provided for reading practice in order to avoid needing multiple decoding strategies and global sight word memorisation.

A version of the R+P Phonology with Reading programme -see above, was used in a study for children with Down Syndrome (Kelly Burgoyne et al) ‘'The Reading and Language Intervention for Children with Down Syndrome combines reading and language instruction in daily teaching sessions that are designed to meet the particular learning needs of children with Down syndrome. It incorporates work on letter knowledge, phonological awareness, whole word and book reading''. ... x/abstract
''After 40 weeks of intervention, the intervention group remained numerically ahead of the control group on most key outcome measures; but these differences were not significant''

In contrast, as a result of her own extensive experience and research, a highly experienced educational psychologist recommends using a systematic synthetic phonics programme with children with Down syndrome. This EP comments, ''Of course we would not deny oral language development work with any children with global learning difficulties, but where we differ would be that we would start with phonics and try to establish phonics as primary strategy for reading, whereas this new initiative seems to be just a re-hash of oral language with a searchlights type approach''.

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Re: Best Method for those with Down's Syndrome

Post by geraldinecarter » Fri Sep 11, 2015 9:54 pm

A colleague was very successful with a 5 year old child with Down syndrome who had v.severe speech problems. She used Sound Reading System + BRI. It was extremely hard work, of course, but his parent was thrilled by the improvement.

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