Helping children with Down’s Syndrome develop vital life-skills
£50 buys one hour of a specialist therapist for three children.
"Due to funding cuts there was very little help from the NHS after our son was born. We were told that we would have to wait for a year for any speech and language therapy, and the physio therapy was non-existent. "

"As such the specialist service DSL has provided has proved invaluable, with it Oscar has made huge leaps in both his language and physical development."

Andrew Dobson
  Friends of DSL
What We Do...



Background

Down’s South London (DSL) is a parent-run charity providing a specialist early intervention multidisciplinary therapy (MDT) service for babies and young children with Down’s Syndrome, unavailable elsewhere either within the NHS or in the private sector.


What We Provide

The therapy service is provided free to families living in South London. Its catchment area stretches from Greenwich to Wandsworth and takes in children from a wide socio-economic background.

In addition to the therapy service, DSL operates as a family support network, providing invaluable mutual support and the oportunity for parents/carers to socialise, form friendships and share information, as well as meet around social events (such as summer fairs and Christmas parties).

With the exception of the therapy service itself, the charity is run entirely by parent volunteers.


One to one speach and laguage therapy


Why We Do It

Along with established medical evidence of delayed physical development, there's growing body of research (1) showing that babies and young children with DS need added input to achieve the same developmental milestones as typically developing children in a range of areas. They commonly have difficulties associated with weaker muscle tone, difficulties with fine motor skills and coordination, and delayed language and communication. Some also show a-tyical sensory processing, which can affect all areas of development.


What We Do

DSL buys in specialist therapists to deliver an early intervention multidisciplinary therapy (MDT) package combining speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, occupational and sensory therapy to babies and young children with Down’s Syndrome.

Implemented early enough, an MDT approach helps develop good attention and listening, language and spoken communication skills; overall physical strength and good muscle tone; fine motor skills and coordination; a well-balanced, receptive sensory system; and positive patterns of behaviour. These are all essential building blocks to a child’s physical, cognitive and emotional development and overall well-being.

The aim is to develop these core skills so that children with Down's Syndrome can access and successfully integrate within mainstream services, starting with nurseries and schools, and ultimately equip them with the lifeskills they will need to achieve some level of independent living in the long term.


Parents and childern participaating in therapy


The Therapy

The therapy service is delivered in small developmentally-matched groups of children at a local health and leisure centre in Peckham. Each child’s therapy package involves one hour of therapy per week provided free of charge over three 12-week terms. Children join as early as 2-3 months old and leave when they finish their Reception year at school. Parents and carers (e.g. classroom learning support assistants) attend the therapy sessions along with the children, allowing them to carry over the strategies used by therapists to support their children in other settings (home, school, nursery).

Regular, weekly access to advice from therapists also enables parents and carers to develop the knowledge and confidence to support their children's therapy programme in a step-by-step manageable way.

The therapy incorporates specialist learning resources such as Makaton (http://www.makaton.org/aboutMakaton/whoUsesMakaton) and Down Syndrome Education International's language and reading development programmes, e.g. See and Learn (http://www.dseinternational.org/en-gb/resources/).

The therapy service has adopted a standardised assessment tool called Bayley Scales of Infant Development (2), which provides a baseline of each child's development over time compared with typically developing children. DSL’s aim is to generate evidence for the effectiveness of early intervention therapy, alongside giving families valuable feedback on their child's progress.

The group nature of DSL's therapy helps promote early social skills among the children, encourage friendships and practical information-sharing among families, and ultimately empowers parents/carers to help their children long-term.





Downs South London, Registered Charity 1123045.     Registered company number: 6381649.
59 Lyndhurst Grove, London SE15 5AW.