Parents’ and teacher aides’ perceptions and expectations of the language and communication abilities of children with Down syndrome.
Van Bysterveldt, A., Westerveld, M., Garvis, S.
ABSTRACT: Children with Down syndrome experience significant and persistent challenges with language and communication and typically receive additional support to facilitate their learning and inclusion at school. This study explored the perceptions and expectations of parents and teacher aides, in relation to language and communication for 10 school-age children with Down syndrome. Individual semi-structured interviews with parents and teacher aides were conducted and thematic analysis undertaken. Results indicated both similarities and differences in the parents’ and teacher aides’ stories. Both groups shared an expectation of further communication and language development and identified speech intelligibility as a barrier to learning and inclusion. However, results revealed a lack of clarity around the teacher aide’s role, responsibility and expertise for the supporting of language and communication of these children at school, and parents indicated dissatisfaction with the speech-language therapy support received. Teacher aides identified their focus on managing behaviour to support social and academic inclusion. We argue for better communication between all stakeholders involved in the ongoing language and communication support of school-age children with Down syndrome.