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Speech Clarity and Down Syndrome: What You Need to Know

Similar to Autism, Down Syndrome is a spectrum disability. Some individuals diagnosed with Down Syndrome have higher cognitive skills than others and some are much easier to understand than others. For a parent, this can be confusing but also hopeful. Understanding what your child is saying or ‘speech intelligibility’ as your therapist might say, is critical. To better understand why your child might be difficult to understand, here are 8 factors that contribute to an individual with Down Syndrome’s speech intelligibility.

1. Structure of the Mouth

In relation to a small oral cavity or mouth, a larger tongue size in individuals with Down Syndrome can cause lack of movement and precision when making speech sounds.

2. Movement

There are many moving parts when talking (lips, tongue, teeth, jaw and palates) a person with Down Syndrome may have difficulty moving one or all of these.

3. Coordination

After learning how to move articulators (lips, tongue, teeth, jaw and palates) a person with Down Syndrome must learn how to coordinate these together in order to make smooth, clear speech.

4. Perception

How a person with Down Syndrome hears and understands the speech and language modeled for them is vital when teaching speech and language skills.

5. Social Language

How does a person with Down Syndrome interact with others in their environment? This can include, staying on topic, taking turns during a conversation or using manners.

6. Nonverbal Communication

How do facial expressions and gestures contribute to your child’s communication style?

7. Context

Is the speaker telling a story that is relevant to the topic at that moment or is the context unknown, possibly causing some confusion.

8. Environment

How does the external environment effect how a person with Down Syndrome is understood? Is there music playing or a lot of background noise that could make it difficult to understand them?
Some or all of these factors may contribute to your loved ones with Down Syndrome speech intelligibility. It is important to understand and work with your loved one’s speech therapist in order to maximize your child’s skills.
*Information gathered from: What Did You Say? A guide to Speech Intelligibility in People with Down Syndrome by, Dr. Libby Kumin, PhD., CCC-SLP

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Patient Reviews

Crystal Scheibe

Great place, glad we found them. Been going to Medina over 2 months now and he loves Lauryn and Kyler. Wish they had more ABA therapy places available... live in Wooster and long drive everyday.

Karrie Swan LaRock

My 11 year old son has dyslexia and has made noticeable gains in working At LLA THERAPY. Katie is strong in her approach toward him and also keeps him comfortable enough to perform well. We will continue visiting both the Fairlawn and Hudson offices and recommend them highly.

Ron Monroe

My 9 year old just completed about 9 months of weekly speech sessions (due to his stuttering) with Matt Hagge at LLA and we are thrilled with the experience and results. What I thought might be a negative (what kid really wants to go to speech class?) was made very positive by Matt, and my son never hesitated or complained when we talked about class. He really enjoyed it and really took what Matt taught him to heart. His speech has been greatly improved and we definitely recommend LLA. Thank you so much!

Heather Dougherty-Pantoja

My son’s Occupational Therapist, Jess, is an amazing OT! She gives practical tips on working with my son at home and school!

Terri Apgar

I cannot say enough good things about LLA Therapy. My daughter was a client of Teal Simmons’ for approximately 2 years and was just released from speech therapy! She was diagnosed with Apraxia in 2015 and worked with Teal twice a week. Through Teal’s application of PROMPT therapy, my daughter had age-appropriate speech after one year. All of the staff we interacted with at LLA were absolutely wonderful. They really care about what they do and making sure your child achieves their goals.

Kelli Geisler Davisson

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for my son as well as my family! My son always asks, "When can I go see Ms. Jeannine again, is it Monday??" He has also made huge gains in only 5 months! I would highly recommend LLA and have already shared my experience with friends looking for services!

Victoria Hansford-Price

We are so grateful for our Speech Therapist Ms.Teal. We have seen a great improvement with our sons confidence and communication abilities since we have started "Prompt" therapy. What we love the most about LLA and Ms. Teal is that Kohl feels comfortable and relaxed which has played a critical role in his progress. Thank you Ms. Teal for all you have done.

Laura Lee Hogsett

They have helped in numerous ways. Speech, OT and behavioral. I've had numerous compliments on my son's progress thanks in very large part to LLA. I would recommend LLA before I recommend our local children's hospitals, though they are good, they don't have the staff that LLA does.

Amy Furukawa

We had a great experience with Matt Hagge at LLA! Our Middle School age son was becoming very conscious of his voice, which is nasal due to a cleft palate. Matt helped him to better form his sounds and project his voice in a way that makes the unavoidable nasality less noticeable.Our son is more confident and outgoing & even took on a speaking role in the church play. Matt has the perfect personality to relate with our son, and we would recommend him to anyone needing speech therapy services!

Jessica Havalotti

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for our daughter. I would highly recommend LLA. Miss Grace was so amazing and I can't believe how quickly our daughter showed improvement. Thank you!
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