Each person with Down’s syndrome will have a unique set of strengths and needs. Commonly, they will benefit from a range of therapy support from an early age onwards to encourage different aspects of their ongoing learning and development.
You can find out more about local NHS services for children and young people here, including what is on offer and how to get a referral.:
We are incredibly fortunate in Buckinghamshire to have Sparkles – a charity that provides therapy services for pre-school children with Down’s syndrome. This means that local children with Down’s syndrome often start school with skills they would not otherwise have. Sparkles is also a wonderful way to connect with other parents with young children.
Contact Sparkles at:
Occupational Therapy (OT) is a far reaching therapy which focuses on improving independence in all aspects of life from pencil skills and tying shoe laces to employment and independent living skills. Many people with Down’s syndrome also experience something called sensory processing/integration disorder.
OT can make a huge contribution and should always be included within the EHCP but you may have to push for this provision. Sadly, many families feel they have no choice but to pay for private OT assessments and support due to waiting times and poor access to OT on the NHS. There are some good specialist providers including PACE, LEAP Children’s Therapy and Sensory Smart Child but please be aware that costs are considerable.
Speech and Language Therapy (SaLT) focuses on all aspects of communication and social development as well as eating, drinking and swallowing. Individuals with Down’s syndrome may have mild to complex and severe speech and language difficulties and SaLT is almost always needed to support more effective communication.
Again, access to speech and language therapy for our children and young people on the NHS has been challenging and something that has worsened over the years. We are fortunate to have Sparkles for pre-school children. Symbol UK is a specialist private provider that offers high quality services to children and young people with Down’s syndrome. Symbol UK charges professional fees for services.
Physiotherapy works to improve or restore movement and function in the body. From early skills such as head control and sitting, to running and climbing stairs, physio is an important therapy for those with Down’s syndrome.
There is strong evidence that early intervention works best to help develop communication, cognitive (thinking and understanding), social and physical skills.
It can be a challenge to get the right level and type of therapy provision on the EHCP but it is worth fighting for. Please visit our EHCP page https://sbdsg.org.uk/resources-support/ehcp/ for further information and support.
As well as the NHS, Social Care services and Sparkles there are a range of private therapy providers in the area. However private therapy is costly, and this can mean there is discrimination of access for those with Down’s syndrome.
The following organisations are ones we know have offered high quality support.
Symbol Uk is a specialist provider of speech and language therapy, training, support and even holiday camps for children with Down’s syndrome. Symbol is a private provider and charges professional rate fees.
PACE is a charity based in Aylesbury and offers a range of services including therapies to children with cerebral palsy and neurodisability up to age 18. Families are asked to contribute to the cost of services but will not be turned away on their ability to pay.
Leap Children’s Therapy is based in High Wycombe and offers an assessment and treatment service and specialises in sensory integration. Leap is a private provider and charges professional rate fees.
Sensory Smart Child
Sensory Smart Child Therapies is based in Surrey but offers overnight family accommodation when attending for assessment. Sensory Smart began with OT services that specialised in sensory integration and now has grown to offer comprehensive therapies for children aged 0-16 with sensory integration difficulties.