Behavioural Issues

Along with being more prone to certain medical and health issues, children with Down syndrome are also more susceptible to having certain behavioural characteristics.

Causes of behaviour

  • Medical
  • Inappropriate tasks
  • Reinforcing inappropriate behaviour
  • Failure to acknowledge positive behaviour frequently
  • Language too complex
  • Environmental factors
  • Siblings

All behaviour has a purpose

  • To initiate social contact
  • To escape or avoid
  • To obtain objects or events
  • To express emotion or to reduce stress
  • For sensory stimulation

Teaching New Skills

  • Task Analysis - breaking things down into little steps e.g. putting on a smock.
  • Backward chaining is used to give the child success e.g. jigsaws, socks on.
  • Modelling - showing what it looks like or how it works e.g. top, push toy, drawing.
  • Co-active movement - it feels like this e.g. painting, jumping, drawing.

Hand over hand

  • Teach appropriate behaviour even if  the child does not like it. Do what the brain needs not what the child wants.


  • Fluctuating hearing loss
  • Reduced memory digit span
  • Auditory processing
  • Delayed speech - signing
  • Articulation

Frustration in any of the above may be interpreted as inappropriate behaviour. Using signing to support communication and signs should always be accompanied with speech.

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