Down's Syndrome Scotland - Learning Resources

Communication is essentially the ability to make known or share information, thoughts and feelings.

Everyone communicates, but it is not always in a way that is easy to understand. Can range from a mild difficulty to having very little verbal language

As members of society, the ability to communicate is an essential requirement for each of us if we are to function successfully in our everyday lives.

    Key Point

    Whatever a someone’s communication level, it is still important to address the person directly so that they feel valued and respected as an individual, even when a carer is providing the information

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    Poor communication

    Poor communication can cause behaviours that are perceived as challenging.

    The term ‘Challenging Behaviour’ – “emphasises that such behaviours represent challenges to services rather than problems which individuals with learning disabilities in some way carry around with them.”

    Blunden & Allen (1987)

    "Behaviour(s) of such intensity, frequency or duration that the physical safety of the person or others is likely to be placed in serious jeopardy, or behaviour which is likely to seriously limit use of, or result in the person being denied access to, ordinary community facilities."

    Emerson, E. (1995)

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    Key Point

    Challenging behaviour can be due to many different causes and can significantly reduce quality of life. When someone displays new or worsening challenging behaviour it is crucial to exclude physical ill health.

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    Positive approaches to challenging behaviour

    Principles of Positive Behavioural Supports:

    • Individualistic
    • Relationship and interaction based
    • Punishment and aversive procedures not used
    • Unconditional value and respect
    • Look beyond behaviour
    • Behaviour is/as communication

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    Key Point

    Specialist Learning Disability services are available to assist with the assessment and treatment of challenging behaviour

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    Quick Quiz

    Will people with Down's Syndrome have difficulty concentrating on long sentences / instructions

    Yes
    No

    Should you touch the person before speaking to them?

    Yes
    No

    Will people with Down's Syndrome have difficulty filtering out background noise during a conversation?

    Yes
    No

    Should you say the person’s name to gain their attention and then if appropriate use touch?

    Yes
    No

    Should you use eye contact at all times?

    Yes
    No

    Should you keep conversation plain and simple, sticking to key facts?

    Yes
    No

    Should you assume the person understands when they nod or comply with request?

    Yes
    No

    Should you give the person time to process the information?

    Yes
    No

    Should you adapt the environment to minimise noise or distraction?

    Yes
    No

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