We know children with Down syndrome can succeed when given the opportunity and with the right support. Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association provides a range of specialist services supporting development and education, and offers training to assist families and professionals to provide effective support for children from birth.
Information and Coffee Mornings
We hold information and coffee mornings where parents can receive and share advice and up-to-date information about all aspects of Down syndrome. New parents are very welcome to join us, and it’s a great opportunity to meet other families and share experiences. Members are also able to borrow resources from our lending library at the centre. Please contact us to find out more.
We think it is important to provide a network of support for not only the child, but the family unit as a whole. Many families with a child with a disability can feel isolated, and so it can be very beneficial for our members to come together and socialise. We organise outings, social gatherings and seasonal parties where our families can have fun, play and learn together and make friends.
Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association offers a range of progressive educational services for members, beginning with our Early Intervention Groups for babies and pre-school children. These sessions have proved invaluable to families over the years, teaching children a wide range of skills to help them meet their developmental milestones and to provide a firm foundation for further learning.
Research has shown that reading can be strength for children with Down syndrome, and it is beneficial to start in their pre-school years. Our groups provide structured activities on a regular basis and aim to introduce and improve skills including not only phonics and early reading, but also speech and language, auditory and memory, number work, cognitive, social, and fine motor skill development.
The programme is delivered by qualified professionals with expertise in the field of Down syndrome. Specialist resources are utilised such as See and Learn materials (DSEI), and Numicon equipment. Parents are encouraged to continue activities with their children at home to increase effectiveness. The sessions not only benefit the children who take part, but also parents can learn new about effective methods and resources which will support their child’s development and education. Groups consist of only two or three children to enable maximum learning to take place.
Portsmouth DSA provides regular Communication Therapy for school age children delivered by qualified experts in the field of Down syndrome. Groups consist of three or four children with a focus on interaction and communication skills, with targets and activities set for families to practise at home throughout the month. Interventional strategies are used to support all areas of development, and aim to improve speaking and listening, language, reading and social skills.
Research tells us that most children with Down syndrome benefit more from being included in mainstream education and can succeed with appropriate support. Portsmouth DSA provides a specialist School Outreach Service to a large number of schools in Portsmouth and South Hampshire which include our children. This support service is delivered by experts in the field, and offers a comprehensive package covering all aspects of education, development, assessment, and inclusion. The child is visited regularly in school, and staff receive advice in all areas of development including successful differentiation and teaching strategies. On hand advice and support is available throughout the year, and a professional report is provided to support the child’s educational needs in their Annual Review.
Termly training is also included in the School Outreach Programme and covers a wide range of relevant topics, delivered by a variety of UK experts. We promote good relations between school staff and parents, and they will often train alongside each other. All training is relevant and based on up-to-date, evidence based research which helps staff and parents to meet the educational and social needs of their children. These regular sessions will also enable local school staff and parents to meet, share ideas and provide a support network for each other.
Our drama sessions have continued to be popular with our children, and provide an excellent opportunity for socialising for all the family. Many of our children have speech and language difficulties so our sessions are especially geared to allow them to participate and succeed, without the need for maximum speech output. Individuals can express themselves through movement and dance, as well as being given small and achievable vocal targets. Our children are good visual learners, so the use of props, demonstration and repeated instructions broken down into small achievable tasks allows the children to experience success.
Benefits of the sessions include learning to speak and move more confidently, better spatial awareness, improved self esteem and confidence, and improved listening and memory skills. The sessions also provide the opportunity to practise life skills like conversation, and rehearse life situations. Families are encouraged to come together and work as a team, and children can play and learn together with other children, in a fun and stimulating environment. The project is innovative because there is no other drama group in the area specifically for children with special needs, or in particular Down syndrome. We are fortunate that these sessions are delivered by a qualified senior drama teacher, with extensive experience of working with individuals with disabilities, including Down syndrome.