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DSRF - Making Dreams Happen
The Down Syndrome Research Foundation is proud to present our brand new promotional video aimed at raising awareness for our organization as well as providing information on our various programs for individuals with developmental disabilities of all ages....more
Waiting for a Snowflake to Land on my Tongue
DSRF Receives Kiwanis Club Grant (2013)
Recent Behavioural Studies
“Are you my friend?”
One of the most important tasks of childhood is to make friends. Although children with DS do generally report having friends, it is not clear how their definition and view of friendship compare to those of their typically developing peers. One of the major gaps in this area of research is that since many children are not able to verbally express their understanding of friendship, we do not have a clear idea of how individuals with DS understand relationships and friendships. We are addressing this gap by developing a visual measure to assess how children and adults with DS perceive friendship. These results will help inform interventions targeted towards friendship development.
Learn at Play Program (LAPP)
The Learn At Play Program (LAPP) prioritizes the goals of nurturing and shaping the development of interpersonal skills and social competence among children with DS. Within this framework the initial developmental tasks involved maximizing the quality of early dyadic interactions between infants with DS and their parents within a play context. As the children develop, the tasks are modified to reflect developmentally appropriate goals that emphasize the social and emotional skills that are essential for children during the preschool years and the transition into formal schooling. Interventions are designed to target the specific domains (e.g., motor, language, short-term memory) that are typically affected by DS within the broader context of social competence goals. The main components of LAPP include:
Preschool: Focus on social competence and early literacy
Research has shown that early differences in perceptual, social and cognitive behaviour influence the quality of caregiver interactions with the child with DS. This warm but directive interaction style may lead to less active engagement on the part of the child in initiating social interactions and increases dependence on the caregiver. Over time this may lead to more passivity on the part of the child and may negatively impact language as well as social-cognitive development. We have recently started a preschool for children with and without DS specifically targeted on the development of social competence with the context of the family’s needs and wellbeing. We are investigating how a curriculum based on social-cognition with a focus on early literacy will impact on the social-cognitive development of preschoolers with DS. Our aim is to determine the factors that will facilitate successful integration into an inclusive kindergarten and elementary school system for children with DS.
Strategies for learning for people with Down Syndrome
Individuals with DS have a tendency towards obesity and lifestyle patterns of physical inactivity. In studies comparing children with DS to their siblings, children with DS were more inactive and spent more time indoors. Fitness programs have been relatively unsuccessful at improving health prognosis arguably because there is little attempt to teach the motor skills necessary to motivate long-term engagement in physical activities. Consequently, there is a need to know how to effectively teach motor skills to people with Down syndrome and increase knowledge of the mechanisms which facilitate motor learning. People with Down syndrome generally respond well to demonstrations yet the mechanisms underlying the action-observation process are poorly understood. There is neurophysiological evidence that the action-observation process is qualitatively different in this population and people with DS have been shown to have difficulties integrating visual and proprioceptive (motor) information as well as predicting the sensory effects of their actions during movement. In this research we will draw upon behavioural and neurophysiological literature to study how Down syndrome people respond to demonstrations in order to imitate, predict error and learn new motor skills.