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Down Syndrome & Education WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN THE CLASSROOM.

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Presentation on theme: "Down Syndrome & Education WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN THE CLASSROOM."— Presentation transcript:

1 Down Syndrome & Education WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN THE CLASSROOM

2 And in the beginning…. Genetic condition resulting when a baby is born with 3, rather than the usual 2, copies of chromosome 21 With a 3rd copy of the 21 st chromosome existing in every cell, it is not surprising to find that every system in the body is affected in some way Most frequently occurring chromosomal condition Occurring once in every _____ live births Over ____ people in the U.S. have Down syndrome Average life span = ___ years People with Down syndrome are living more typical lives than ever before Working Obtaining Driver’s License Attending College (over 250 colleges/universities) Getting Married Living Independently

3 What is Life Like for Someone with Down Syndrome? The average life span for someone with Down syndrome has reached 60 years of age. In 1984 the average life span was 24 years (28 years ago) What are some reasons that you think might have lead to this dramatic increase in life expectancy? Feel Love, Pain, desire to be liked/loved, want to be included. Have goals and aspirations (what are some of yours?) Want to be a “part of the group”.

4 What are the implications to longevity? Education: Is this really important to someone with a cognitive disability? People with Down syndrome learn, just like you and me and they are life learners. Education is the key to future success (why are you here?). Without it, life is more limiting. How do people with Down syndrome learn? Visual learners- what are some things you might do in the classroom to help a “visual” learner? BUT, often have vision issues. Learn by listening (not to lectures). Who in the classroom can help them using “listening” skills? People with Down syndrome often have a host of accompanying medical issues. How might these impact their ability to learn? 1.GI Issues: constipation, inability to process food properly, etc. 2.Vision: Where should they be seated in the classroom? 3.Hearing: Be aware of how you project when speaking or giving instructions. 4.Sleep apnea: did you get a good night sleep last night? If not, how is it impacting you today, in this class?

5 Longevity Cont. SHORTER LIFESPAN  Average lifespan of 24:  Need college?  Job?  Community involvement?  Independent living? LONGER LIFESPAN  Average lifespan of 60:  No formal education= lack of opportunities  With post-secondary education= more opportunities  Jobs: can get a job with no college, but more difficult and more limited.  Out in the community more: volunteering, going to church, involved in theater, dinner with friends, etc.  No skills or ability to manage finances, opportunities to live semi/independently are greatly reduced.

6 How do Students with Down syndrome Learn? With a strength being their ability to learn by seeing, watching, and observing others we should do more to bring this natural skill to the forefront. 1) Are there textbooks that can be brought into the classroom with more pictures? 2) have age appropriate picture assessments to determine comprehension (if you show a picture of George Washington crossing the Delaware to a student with Down syndrome and ask them to describe what is going on, does it suffice if they say “Revolution!” and “Fighting for rights!”? Peer modeling if very powerful for these students. 1) Have a typical peer that is maybe “bored” in class, mentor a student with Down syndrome. Evidence based! 2) It is good for both students and reinforces the content for both as well. What we know: They are visual learners Peer modeling works well (typical peers) Very social- how to play to this strength. What if this strength is ignored or “punished?” Take longer to process. Do well with structure. Consistency and continuity. Focus on the main themes, details are great, but are they the most important aspect of what you are teaching?

7 How do Students with Down syndrome Learn cont. People with Down syndrome, generally, like to please others. They are social by nature. 1) Use this ability to help them succeed. Let the other students see them as leaders in the classroom (calling roll, passing papers out, holding the door open before class, etc.) 2) In a more academic setting, design small group work so they can participate and model other students. Students with Down syndrome are going to process information and instructions at a different pace. 1) While the simple instructions: “take your book out, turn to page 78, read the first 3 paragraphs, and write a 50 word summary” May seem simple enough, when numbers are not your strongest skill, this can be overwhelming. 2) Give time prompts so the students know what to expect next. “Class, we will be going to lunch in 5 minutes.” Very social- how to play to this strength. What if this strength is ignored or “punished?” Take longer to process. Do well with structure. Consistency and continuity. Focus on the main themes, details are great, but are they the most important aspect of what you are teaching?

8 How do Students with Down syndrome Learn cont. Having a classroom with structure and expectations is important. This ties into the fact that people with Down syndrome can be very schedule oriented. 1) Consistency and continuity can help abate a lot of behavior problems. If students do not know what to expect from day- to-day or each hour in class, this can be confusing, frustrating, and overwhelming for them. The result may be inappropriate behavior in the classroom. 2) Keeping things to a regular schedule will also help. By knowing what to expect each day, students with Down syndrome may relax and be more open to what you are saying. Do well with structure. Consistency and continuity. Focus on the main themes, details are great, but are they the most important aspect of what you are teaching?

9 What is your role? A.As an educator, you are charged with serving ALL of your students, not just the ones that YOU view as having the greatest potential. B.To learn more about your students in order to best meet their individual needs. All students have a unique learning style, students with Down syndrome are no different. Find what works for them (individually). C.Modify your instruction. A.What is the goal of X? Can that be modified? (colors when checking in, numbers, shapes, etc.) B.What obstacles are there in your classroom environment that may be keeping your students from learning? C.Modify your expectations (which way should they go?!) D.What about the parents? A.They are scared as well. B.They don’t have all of the answers, may look to you as the “expert” C.Expectations? Where are the parents? Realistic? Too low? E.Know where to turn for help!

10 Resources You will be a generalist, even if you “specialize” in Special Education. It is impossible for you to know everything there is about: Down syndrome, Autism, Cri du Chat, Wilson syndrome, Fragile X, Cerebral Palsy…… Know who the experts are and use them. General Resources

11 Resources Cont. Educational Resources

12 Conclusion It all starts with you. You don’t have a crystal ball to be able to look into the future. The average annual rate of the U.S. population that is either incarcerated, on probation, or under the direct supervision of a correctional institution is 3.1% (FBI statistic). Less than.12% of the U.S. population has Down syndrome. Yet, some educators believe students with Down syndrome are “not worth teaching” or “will hit a glass ceiling and stop learning.” OR…… They may go on to get married, earn a college degree, live independently, get their drivers license, swim the English Channel…. You will help determine these outcomes.

13 Mac Macsovits Executive Director


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