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Behavior & Sensory Support

What you need to know

There is an increased risk for certain psychological conditions.
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Obsessive compulsive disorders
Be aware of the potential for safety concerns.
  • Wandering off
  • Playground
  • Field Trips
Overly friendly affect
  • Children with Down syndrome will often approach strangers in a friendly way.
  • The overt friendliness with strangers may put them at an increased risk for exploitation.
  • Reinforce the concepts of personal boundaries.
May engage in self talk when in uncomfortable or confusing situation
  • Talking aloud to oneself is a way to process information and think things through.
  • Children who have DS not only use self-talk to help themselves learn, but many seem almost incapable of silent thought.
  • Those who are readers may have difficulty reading silently and need to do so out loud.
  • Also, self-talk often involves the externalization of fantasy life. This can lead to embarrassing moments, and at worst, mistaken impressions that a child or youth is delusional or hallucinating as they audibly act out fantasy dialogues.
Stubborn/oppositional behavior
  • Stubborn behavior usually prompted by not fully understanding what is expected or trying to gain control over their lives
  • Pay attention to triggers
    • Frustration
    • Lack of understanding
    • Inability to communicate
Attention

Decreased attention span, impulsive behavior excessive fidgeting, and non-directed motor activity are common in all children at various ages. However, they are more commonly seen in individuals with Down syndrome.

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and impulsivity can be based on developmental age and not just strictly chronological age.
    • The frequency of ADHD in children with DS is not known with certainty.
    • However, ADHD like symptoms are more common in young children with Down syndrome compared to children from the general population.
    • Compounding symptoms such as repetitiveness, anxiety, or extreme irritability in the presence of ADHD-like symptoms may indicate another disorder such as autism, bipolar disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.
    • Language processing problems and hearing loss may be involved.
  • It is important to rule out other causes of ADHD.

What you can do

Interventions for psychological conditions
  • Individuals with Down syndrome may need:
    • Behavioral supports
    • Counseling
    • Medication
Interventions for safety
  • Safety considerations should be written into the classroom IEP.
  • Consider using a visual supports such as a stop sign to act as a reminder to ask permission to leave.
Interventions for attention issues

The following points are also found under 'Special Ed Supports'.

  • Direct instruction in short periods of time
  • Teach smaller chunks of activities
  • Give new material slowly
  • Teach in a sequentially and step-by-step fashion
  • Minimize distractibility
    • Keep away from windows
    • Keep a structured environment
    • Keep noise level down
    • Have clear expectations, routines, and rules