Monday, March 31, 2014

Comprehensive Assessment of Monolingual and Bilingual Children with Down Syndrome: A Review

Children with Down Syndrome present with unique characteristics and challenges as compared to many of the different populations with whom I work in my school-based setting.  Honestly, it is a population about whom I know little.  Today, I have the incredible privilege of reviewing for you a product by Tatyana Elleseff MA CCC-SLP of Smart Speech Therapy LLC entitled Comprehensive Assessment of  Monolingual and Bilingual Children with  Down Syndrome.

Let's begin...


Tatyana's presentation is intended to assist the reader with the assessment of children, both monolingual and/or bilingual, with Down Syndrome.  She details the specific speech-language deficits frequently observed in this population, and provides examples of how to document these deficits in written form to develop an appropriate plan of service in multiple target areas.  It is intended, not only for speech-language pathologists, but for parents/caregivers and related professionals as well.

Down Syndrome:  An Introduction

For those of you like me who have little experience with this population, Tatyana begins by expertly describing the prevalence, general milestones, and specific impact of this disorder on the areas of feeding, oral sensitivity, swallowing, craniofacial anatomy, speech, voice, fluency and prosody, language (covering all components), and IQ.  This information provided me with valuable background knowledge I was lacking, as I knew of speech-language deficits from my graduate work, but lack that same degree of detail with many of the other areas covered.  She also detailed overall strengths and weaknesses typically displayed by this population.  I know this summary was very beneficial for me in looking at how I could re-tailor how I work with this population.  Now I know how to better use each student's strengths to work toward minimizing his/her weaknesses.

Assessments for Nonverbal and Limitedly Verbal Children with Down Syndrome  

Do you have difficulty assessing your children with Down Syndrome with traditional assessments? Me too :( You will absolutely treasure this section of Tatyana's presentation.  Again, her attention to detail is impeccable as she explores assessment of each of the different facets of speech-language that should be considered/evaluated when working with this population.  Assessments for both nonverbal and limitedly verbal children are explained in detail.  Links to products are included for your convenience and some of these assessments are FREE!  Yes, you heard me correctly, FREE!  I have some experience with both the Augmentative & Alternative Communication Profile and the Communication Matrix and have used both with a variety of different populations, but I haven't yet used with children with Down Syndrome.  It is definitely time for me to pull these tools from my toolbox as well as try new ones suggested by Tatyana.  A quick summary of each is included to aid the clinician in selecting the most appropriate assessment(s) for the child in mind.  


Being from a more rural area of northeast Indiana, bilingualism in my district, while present, is a very, very small percentage of my caseload.  That being said, it is rarely a factor in the assessments I typically conduct. I appreciate all the efforts displayed by my colleagues in working with bilingual children.  Tatyana specializes in the area of bilingualism, so I truly appreciate and respect her expertise in this area.  Her analysis of factors to consider and how those factors shape the assessment process is an excellent resource to which I will refer in the future, should bilingualism be a consideration in a child for whom I am providing a speech-language evaluation.

Evaluation Report Writing Considerations

Report writing is by far one of the most challenging components of my job.  I always err on the side of caution and include more information that what most would consider critical information. Call that a strength if you will, but it also makes for a long, detailed report for my readers.  For anyone who struggles with this, or who just wants to improve his/her report writing skills, the samples included by Tatyana provide excellent examples of not only the areas to be included, but wording to be considered/used.  I found her examples for the bilingual population to be an excellent resource should I switch settings or experience multiple students in the future for whom this is applicable.  Not only are Tatyana's examples an excellent representation of information that should be considered/shared regarding children with Down Syndrome, they are an excellent model by which to write any evaluation report.  In addition to the areas detailed above, Tatyana also provides examples for adaptive behavior and learning style, attention to task, and dynamic assessment, all of which are additional areas to consider.  One could not ask for a more thorough representation/example of report writing for this intended population. Tatyana left no stone unturned!

Writing Therapy Goals

Another area equally challenging for myself as a fairly new clinician is goal writing, particularly for individuals who present with characteristics with which I am less familiar.  Tatyana's section on writing appropriate goals is extremely thorough and an excellent reminder to any clinician of what to consider and/or include in writing meaningful, measurable goals.  SMART, or Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound, should guide each and every goal that we write as clinicians. Tatyana provides the reader with both tips and specific examples for writing these SMART goals and includes both long-term goals and short-term objectives.  An excellent resource to have available for any new student who crosses your path!


What more can I need this packet!  The packet as a whole is a valuable resource for working with children with Down Syndrome.  In addition, Tatyana has listed 3 pages of resources to aid all individuals who work with this population - links included.  What are you waiting for? Check out Comprehensive Assessment of Monolingual and Bilingual Children with Down Syndrome at Tatyana's store:  Smart Speech Therapy, LLC by clicking here.

A heart-felt thank you to Tatyana Elleseff for allowing me the privilege of reviewing this product.  It will indeed change the way in which I work with my students with Down Syndrome.


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