Early Communication Skills for Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals

By Kat Abianac / November 1, 2016

So I get asked alot about the big stack of my favourite resources I keep in my lounge! I’ll share them one by one over the coming weeks.

This one is a terrific resource on teaching you the best methods for early communication when you have a child with Down syndrome.

I also highly, highly recommend doing a Hanen course. Speak to your speech and language pathologist who can get you more information.

An example of encouraging speech:

Parker likes of turn the tap off after we brush his teeth. So to incorporate regular speech into our routine, which he can predict, I say, ‘Parker, can you turn the tap OFF?’

When he turns it off, I say, And now it’s… (long pause) ‘Off! Thankyou!’

This simple language accompanied by a chance for him to think of the word himself for a beat, reinforces the correct, simple word popping in his head before I say it- and now I see him mouthing it, or he will vocalise ‘Op’ which is his version of ‘off’.

The best part about reading this resource- is realising HOW much speech your child actually already has and is attempting! I had no idea! Parker has been intermittently attempting speech a long time (not much of it is clear unless you know what to listen for) and I got this book when he was around 2… it’s there, just not as clear or consistent as his big sisters’ was. Identifying ways to encourage speech is SO important, as well as helping others in your child’s life to do the same to avoid them getting discouraged and not feeling heard.

Newly revised and updated, this compassionate and authoritative guide is based on Libby Kumin’s thirty years of experience of working with children and adolescents with Down syndrome and their families. Dr Kumin draws on her vast experience to show parents how they can support and encourage their child’s speech and language development from birth to age 6 (or when a child can form 2- to 3-word sentences). Parents and teachers learn how to work through characteristic challenges, including hearing loss, intelligibility issues, apraxia (difficulty planning oral-motor movements), or a slower pace of development. Families soon see that many children with Down syndrome are natural and willing communicators.

In a warm and conversational style, the author shares her professional expertise in parent-friendly terms. She uses specific examples of difficulties and successes to illustrate the concepts behind speech and language development, and includes the latest research supporting current early intervention and pre-school approaches that can be used at home and in schools. 

This third edition features expanded information on the needs of children with apraxia, dual diagnosis of autism and Down syndrome, and updated terminology and information on special education law. An expanded chapter explains how technology and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can help with speech and language, foster communication, and provide inexpensive transitional language systems.

And there’s an online supplement of over 30 helpful forms! Use these for assessment, developing treatment plans, and keeping detailed records of progress. Teachers, speech-language pathologists, and parents will appreciate the forms and organizing information for IEP meetings or periodic evaluations. Find these forms through a link on the book’s page on the publisher’s website, woodbinehouse.com.


A review by Deborah V on Amazon: “This is an excellent resource for those trying to teach language, speech and communication. The book is written so that a parent/grandparent/teacher can understand it, but contains facts and research to back up many of the suggestions (the academic component).”

Get the book here:


This is an affiliate link- click through to purchase on Amazon.

Great!! - November 20, 2016

What a brilliant idea! I love that it seems your blog is going to show these posts in the header as info for parents. You are a star, this series of posts will be an excellent resource for the community of parents

    Kat Abianac - December 7, 2016

    thankyou- I certainly hope so! Lots of resources are available on Kindle and Amazon and rather than reinvent the wheel I feel there are some gems that should just be shared more widely.

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