Down Syndrome and education


28-March-2012

Nel is learning gardening so that in the future he can have his own vegetable garden at home

Children with Down syndrome can and do learn, and are capable of developing skills throughout their lives. They simply reach goals at a different pace — which is why it's important not to compare a child with Down Syndrome against typically developing siblings or even other children with the condition. 

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. The developmental gap between children with Down syndrome and their peers thus widens with age. However, given that children with Down Syndrome vary as widely in their development and progress as typically developing children and have a wide range of abilities, there's no way to tell at birth what they will be capable of as they grow up.

In Seychelles, children with Down syndrome are eligible for school as soon as they reach crèche enrollment age. While a few children are integrated within mainstream schools, the majority are enrolled in special schools such as the School for the Exceptional Child and Praslin Centre for the Exceptional Child. Given their special needs, they normally require some degree of one-to-one help, a small group setting, and teaching that takes into account their learning pace. Currently, this is not always feasible in the mainstream school setting.

At secondary school age, they require a programme which focuses on functional academic skills such as handling money, telling the time, filling out relevant forms, reading bus timetables, communication skills and vocational training.

It is important to remember that while children and adults with Down syndrome experience developmental delays, they also have many talents and gifts and should be given the opportunity and encouragement to develop those.

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