Down syndrome, also called trisomy 21, is a chromosomal condition in which extra
genetic material causes delays in the way a child develops, both mentally and physically.
Kids and teens with Down syndrome tend to share certain physical features such
as a flat facial profile, an upward slant to the eyes, small ears, and a protruding
tongue. They tend to grow at a slower rate and remain shorter than their peers.
Down syndrome can affect learning abilities in different ways, but it usually causes
mild to moderate intellectual impairment. Children with Down syndrome have delays
in speech and motor skills, and may need help with self-care, such as dressing and
Medical problems associated with Down syndrome can vary widely from child to child.
While some kids and teens need a lot of medical attention, others lead healthy lives.
People born with Down syndrome are at risk for:
require physical, occupational, and speech
need extra time and assistance with class work
require therapeutic staff support in the classroom
What Teachers Can Do
Students with Down syndrome can have a range of abilities. They can learn and develop
new skills throughout their lives, but reach goals at a different pace. Remember to
focus on the individual and learn firsthand about his or her capabilities and special
Be aware of any medical concerns associated with Down syndrome that are specific
to your student.
Students with Down syndrome are often enrolled in mainstream education systems
and enjoy participating with peers in all kinds of classroom activities. Encourage
physical fitness and involvement in all school activities, as well as extracurricular
Realize that you can make a big difference in your student's life. Learn the student's
interests so you can create opportunities for success in school.