Study will examine how children with Down syndrome learn

October 24, 2008

Researchers at the University of Denver (DU) Morgridge College of Education are conducting a groundbreaking study that will compare two early literacy intervention approaches to educating young children with Down syndrome. The Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Educational Fund is funding the study, which hopes to improve teaching methods for children with the condition.

Researchers are seeking children in the Denver area, ages 2 1/2 to 5, to participate in the study, which will involve a two-day training session to be held at DU followed by an at-home intervention program in which parents will implement the program with their child for approximately 15 minutes per day for approximately 10 months. There is no cost to participate. Contact Staci Jordan at (303) 871-3465 for information on how children can be enrolled.

"There has been little to no research on how our children with Down syndrome learn, especially regarding reading and language," says Michelle Sie Whitten, executive director of the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation and Advisory Committee Chair of The Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Educational Fund. "There have been significant breakthroughs in terms of how children with other developmental disabilities learn, and I strongly believe that our kids deserve the same attention."

The result of this pilot study, Whitten said, could have a profound effect on the academic achievement of children with Down syndrome. An international team of experts has contributed to the study, including Sue Buckley, a chartered psychologist in England with more than 30 years of experience in the field of developmental disabilities.

"What is so exciting and unique about this particular study is that scientifically based research on early learning intervention has been translated into applied research in areas such as autism, but never before in Down syndrome research," says Karen Riley, assistant professor of Child, Family and School Psychology at DU, and the key investigator driving the pilot study. "In addition, we are attracting researchers for this study who have expertise in other developmental disabilities, and we are applying their knowledge to Down syndrome."

This study was initiated by The Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Educational Fund. It is underwritten by a $130,000 gift from The Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Educational Fund, $10,000 from the McDonnell Foundation and $10,000 from the University of Denver. The researchers working on this study have been trained by Buckley, who is one of the world's leading researchers in the education and development of children with Down syndrome.

Source: University of Denver

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