Instilling Good Behavior for Children with Down Syndrome

Your child with special needs is 36 months old and you are preparing to transition from Birth-to-Three services into an early childhood program.
When researching early childhood settings (home, preschool or public school), it is important to think about what your child should achieve by the end of the program. While every child is different, at age 6 your child with or without special needs should have the following behavior skills and be able to:

• Sit at a table (for three to five minutes)
• Wait (at least one minute)
• Comply (single step directions)
• Transition (from high preference activity to low preference)
• Tolerate Boredom
• Quiet Voice
• Hands to Yourself
• Perform a Table Task
• Flexibility
• Sharing
• Stay Close

*The above skills are described along with teaching strategies by book author, Alice Belgrade, M.S. Ed., B.C.B.A., L.C.P.C. in her book “Behavior Skills For School And Life: Teaching Children with Special Needs”, copyright © 2010 Alice Belgrade.

Anecdotally, a significant percentage of children with Down syndrome don’t graduate from K5 with these behavior skills and the lack of these skills can challenge their success in an inclusive classroom both socially and academically. Parents should be aware of the importance of these behavior skills, whether their child is on track developmentally, or working to catch up and meet the appropriate benchmarks.

When parents focus their time teaching behavior skills in partnership with the schools and both leverage strategies specifically designed to help those with developmental delays learn, through parent and school focus, their child with Down syndrome will graduate from K5 with the best possible foundation of behavior skills. The Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin has consulted with parents and schools over 100 times in the last two years to specifically help with behavior and the techniques provided by an expert such as Alice Belgrade to help improve behavior for children with special needs deliver excellent results. Another tool offered by Alice Belgrade is her companion guide “Behavior Assessment Screening and Intervention System”. While this is more of a tool for Special Education Teachers, it is a simple system and also recommended for parents. This tool provides specific strategies and a methodology of data collection that will help any expert, like a privately contracted Behavior Analyst, contribute to a child’s development if challenges around behavior arise.

The book written by Alice Belgrade titled “Behavior Skills for School and Life” and the companion guide “Behavior Assessment Screening and Intervention System” can be purchased directly from the author.

Do you have any tips to share that helped your child with Down syndrome learn good behavior?

Ron is the Executive Director at the Down syndrome Association of Wisconsin which has Chapters in Milwaukee, Sheboygan, Green Bay, Appleton, Eau Claire and La Crosse. Ron received the Transition Initiative Grant Award for Outstanding Individual Family Member Transition Assistance. Ron was selected to Governor Walker’s Disability Employment Roundtable in 2014. Ron is co-chair of the IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self Direct) Advisory Board working to help people with disabilities live independently in the community.

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