Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of a third copy of chromosome 21. The average IQ of a young adult with Down syndrome is 50, equivalent to the mental ability of an 8 or 9 year old child but this can vary widely. While students with Down syndrome may share certain physical traits each student is an individual and the level of general learning disability will range from mild to profound. The student with this syndrome might have problems such as auditory and visual impairment, difficulties with thinking and reasoning and applying knowledge in new situations, limited concentration span and speech/language impairment.
For students with Down syndrome assistive technology provides adaptations that make accessing curriculum goals and completing tasks easier. Education industry research and market reports reveal that currently technologies have been developed and more are being researched on in order to help such students complete their assignments quicker than if they had tried the tasks on their own. Assistive technology offers a range of developments that are specialized to be comfortable while still being efficient.
- Children with Down syndrome tend to have shorter, stubbier fingers which reduce their ability to write. Since some of the wrist bones are not formed holding regular sized objects may be difficult for such people. Assistive technology has found that slanted desks or a three ring binder turned sideways allows a Down syndrome student to compensate for the lack of mobility in their wrists. Also providing them shortened or triangular shaped pencils will help them as they can hold these easily.
- There has also been awareness spread about the fact that Down syndrome students have issues with cutting skills. Their hand mobility does not allow the ease of opening and closing the normal scissors since that motion is difficult. The aids provided by assistive technology are scissors with springs that are fixed to automatically open once it has been shut.
- Assistive technology for Down syndrome students offers creative tactile ideas for allowing such children to get tactile experience for their growth and development. Among the ideas is the one to form their letters and numbers in Play-Doh or making them in shaving cream on their desk.
- Educational software that uses improved graphics and animation is also a key aid to such students. The core course material is taught using smart boards and alliances with reliable companies also improves the process.
Education market research reports reveal that the current assistive technology is improving and is increasing its range from simple modified gadgets to computer software’s. It is hoped that many Down syndrome students will benefit from the opportunities that interactive white boards give such as visual assistance. Educational software’s are extensively used and are being further researched on. UK schools have also started collaborating with the BBC in order to harness genuine information and some schools have even started opening their own websites to digitally aid their students. Additional attention is being paid to the fact that students with Down syndrome need to be made to feel equal and secure. Inclusive education is being promoted globally and assistive technology for children with Down syndrome is a clear testament to this.
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Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications