Topic Overview

People with
Down syndrome usually have some level of independence
by the time they become adults. Different types of specialized therapies,
counseling, and training can help them learn necessary skills and manage
emotional issues.

The common types of therapy and training include:

  • Speech and language therapy. Children with Down
    syndrome usually learn to talk but do so later than other children. Typically,
    they understand speech (receptive language) much better than they are able to
    speak (expressive language). Structural abnormalities of the mouth or tongue
    may make it difficult for children with Down syndrome to talk.
    Sign language can help bridge this gap to enhance
    their communication.
  • Physical therapy. The goal of physical therapy is to make daily tasks and activities easier. Physical therapy helps people learn how to strengthen and position their bodies. This can help children learn to sit, stand, and walk in safe ways. A physical therapist usually shows parents
    techniques that they can practice at home with their child.
  • Occupational therapy. Occupational therapy seeks to improve
    functional skills in small motor skill areas, such as eating or handling
    objects. Also, fine motor skills are taught, such as buttoning and unbuttoning
  • Nutritional counseling. Children with Down syndrome tend
    to become overweight. This happens because they usually burn calories more slowly than children who do not have Down syndrome. Also, they may not participate in regular physical activities because of
    health concerns. A
    registered dietitian can help create a nutritious diet
    plan and offer helpful ideas for feeding your child.
  • Vocational
    . This usually is provided by school districts and often begins in high
    school. Teens and young adults are evaluated and trained for jobs that match
    their strongest skills. This helps them be independent and reach their full

For more information, see the topics:

Related Information


Other Works Consulted

  • Roizen NJ (2013). Down syndrome (trisomy 21). In ML Batshaw et al., eds., Children With Disabilities, 7th ed., pp. 307-318. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD – Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Louis Pellegrino, MD – Developmental Pediatrics

Current as ofMay 4, 2017