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How Speech Therapy Helps Children With Down Syndrome

Posted by Brian Spence on Apr 1, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Speech Therapy, Down Syndrome, Behavioral Health, Allied Health, Speech TherapyAbout 6,000 babies born in the United States each year are born with Down Syndrome, making it one of the most common genetic conditions. Though doctors and scientists have made great advances in modern medicine to diagnose Downs and provide support and treatment, there is still a lot to learn.

For example, scientists recently published new findings of speech therapy and Down syndrome in the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, proving that children with Down syndrome can demonstrate symptoms of childhood dysarthria and apraxia.

In the past, Down patients with motor speech disorder characteristics would be diagnosed with dysarthria.

Dysarthria is a condition where speech ability is disrupted by weak muscles and uncoordination. Speech pathologists would then focus on building strength in the muscles for clarity and intelligibility. However, this new study proves that children with Downs can also display symptoms of apraxia, where speech is not disrupted by weak muscles. Instead, apraxia notes that muscles can already be strong, but the child is having difficulty connecting thought to motor control.

By proving that children with Down Syndrome can have symptoms from both types of speech disorders, Speech Pathologists will be more equipped to help patients learn to speak. Shelley Velleman, a scientist who is part of the research team, encourages Speech Pathologists to instead approach patients by treating all symptoms, not just by diagnosis. Velleman and scientists are also working on a more accurate test that will help them assess and treat motor speech disorders more accurately.

With this breakthrough, Speech Pathologists can provide more support and see improved results when helping children with Down Syndrome.

To stay on top of this and related topics, visit the Healthcare or Behavioral Health sections of our blog. If your organization is seeking talented staff with a Speech Pathology background, we look forward to helping you.

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