Find out about the link between stammering and Down's Syndrome. Learn what you can do to help when talking with someone with Down's.
Stammering is common in people with Down's Syndrome. They will often have other speech and language differences and hearing loss. This means someone with Down’s can be hard to understand.
Down's syndrome may also cause learning difficulties. This can affect the ability to understand and produce speech.
Someone with Down's Syndrome might:
- repeat whole words or parts of words while trying to think of the next bit of the sentence. Eg "It's…it's…it's…big."
- have long pauses in the middle of the sentence when they can't think of what to say next. Eg "It's a……ball."
- pause in unusual places in sentences. This is often followed by two or three words in a sudden rush that may be hard to understand. Eg "I'm going swim…mint'morrow."
- stress the wrong word in a sentence or on the wrong part of the word
- struggle to find the right speech sound to start the word off.
How to help
When talking with someone with Down's Syndrome, you can help by doing the following:
- Give them plenty of time to speak and plan what they want to say.
- Pause before responding or talking, and slow the conversation down.
- Avoid finishing sentences or saying what you think they're trying to say.
- Ask them to repeat what they said if you haven't understood something. It's best to be honest.
- Avoid long or complicated sentences.
- Give positive encouragement for the message rather than the style of delivery.
- Use gestures to illustrate your conversation.
Let them know you value what they are saying and that you want to hear them.
Support & more INFORMATION
The Down's Syndrome Association. They have practical tips and activities for families and carers. These can help support children and young people to develop their communication skills.
Exploring Fluency in Down's Syndrome. This is a book for professionals and parents, by Monica Bray (2016).