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Early Development Groups


LETS Go! Early Development Groups are for children with Down syndrome from birth through the pre-school years.  These groups cover development across a range of areas depending on the child’s profile of needs. Early Development Groups can be set up by local support groups or small groups of families who have children of a similar age.



Early Development Groups


There is a specific learning profile associated with Down syndrome which includes areas of particular strength as well as areas children typically find more difficult. Children with Down syndrome often need more repetition and practice to achieve the important steps in early child development. Our Early Development Groups focus on early intervention, targeting the areas that we know are likely to be more challenging. Skills are broken down into smaller steps and targeted in the groups alongside parents to ensure opportunity and practice occurs at home. A range of activities are included in the group, adapted to meet the needs of children with Down syndrome. We also use resources and programmes specifically designed for use with children who have this particular learning profile.


The structure of the group is flexible depending on the needs of the group. Below is a guide to what could be included although this detail would be agreed with individual groups.


4 months-18months:



18month-4 years:


Annual assessment of each child within the group to include - an informal assessment (which may include the informal use of some standardised measures) carried out yearly to identify each child's current development and skills across the areas covered in the Early Development Groups. Targets for each individual continuing in the communication groups would be set for the coming year. These targets will be reviewed the following year (end of the school year for school leavers) in a similar assessment session. A short written report would be provided for each child after the assessment reviewing the child's development and their progress towards the agreed goals.


Communication - pre-linguistic skills (e.g. eye-contact, joint attention, non-verbal communication, gesture use), total communication, turn taking, sharing, co-operation, attention and listening skills, requesting, initiating.

Speech – listening and discrimination skills, production of symbolic sounds, single sounds, sound combinations, use of sounds in words, connected speech, syllable marking, intelligibility and clarity.

Receptive vocabulary and language – understanding of single vocabulary words covering a range of syntactic categories including nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, time and quantity. In line with the development of the child and their vocabulary, language targets would be incorporated into the session and include following a range of instructions and understanding word order and early grammar.

Expressive vocabulary and grammar - as receptive targets are achieved, expressive targets following this same pattern of development would be covered - single vocabulary word production (including spoken words and sign) covering a range of syntactic categories. In line with the development of the child and their vocabulary, expressive language targets would be incorporated into the session including combining words into a range of phrases and multiword utterances, the use of carrier phrases and early grammatical markers.

Reading – sight word recognition, letter sound knowledge, early reading comprehension and phonic skills including early blending and segmenting.

Number – early number concepts and vocabulary including size, shape, comparatives, more/less, rote counting, numeral recognition, 1-1 correspondence, stable order and the introduction of Numicon.

Memory – activities to support attention, listening, visual and verbal memory strategies.

  • Information and advice provided around the learning profile associated with Down syndrome, areas of strength and difficulty, stages of development and relevant services.

  • Activities demonstrated and parents supported to carry out activities with their child to ensure they are confident and able to practice these activities at home.

  • Information on why these activities are important to practice and the ways they can help to promote development.

  • A written set of the activities to practice at home is given to parents so that parents can go away with a record of the activities.

  • A record of each child’s performance and development is kept to ensure individual target adaptation and measurement of progress. This allows the group activities to be differentiated to meet each child’s individual needs.

  • Sessions of 1 hour with 40-45 minutes of activities covering:

  • 10-15 minutes discussion - Targets/activities are demonstrated and explained, the rational and evidence for their selection is shared and an opportunity for discussion and questions is provided.

  • Ongoing records of each child’s performance and development are kept - to ensure individual targets and measurement of progress, notes are kept on each child’s development to inform future target setting and goal development. This would allow the group activities to be differentiated to meet each child’s individual needs.

  • A written recommendation of monthly targets - at the end of each group session the families are given a set of targets to work on at home and the progress is reviewed at each session.

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