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NEW Supporting early development for children with Down syndrome from birth to 5 years

The first few years of life are a critical time for development for all children. From birth, children with Down syndrome experience developmental delays and need additional support. Research is helping us to better understand these challenges and identify effective strategies for early intervention. Presented and led by Professor Sue Buckley, this course examines how Down syndrome influences early development and what this means for effective support for young children with Down syndrome from birth.

This online course offers convenient and cost-effective access to up-to-date information and practical guidance for early years professionals supporting children with Down syndrome aged from birth to 5 years, including health visitors, early years teachers and assistants, speech and language therapists, advisory teachers, educational psychologists and outreach/advice staff and volunteers at organisations supporting young people with Down syndrome. The course will also be valuable for the parents of children with Down syndrome seeking detailed advice, based on the latest research.

The course includes 10 modules, each of which includes a video presentation, handouts and an assessment. The video presentations can be viewed, handouts downloaded and assessments completed at any time. In addition, course participants are invited to join an online discussion forum with DSE tutors for the opportunity to ask questions and seek additional advice. Course participants should plan to spend a minimum of 20 hours studying to complete the course and assessments.

The course is accessible to clients in any country. A computer with a modern web browser and a reliable Internet connection sufficient for streaming videos is required.


The following modules are included in this course:

  • How does having Down syndrome affect development? - how having Down syndrome may influence children's development and learning, including an overview of common health issues and how they may influence development and an introduction to early social, motor, language, working memory and cognitive development for children with Down syndrome
  • Supporting social and emotional development - supporting social development from the first weeks of life through to starting school, including relating to both adults and children, learning to fit into the social world, play and friendships, managing emotions, developing age-appropriate behaviour and how to prevent or change difficult behaviours
  • Learning to talk - how language learning may be influenced by having Down syndrome and provides practical guidance on how to support children with Down syndrome at each stage from understanding first signs and words to developing sentences and grammar
  • Developing speech and verbal short term memory - speech skills begin to develop from the first weeks of life and this module explains speech development and suggests activities to improve discrimination and production of speech sounds and words - it also explains the links between speech and verbal short-term memory (VSTM) and describes activities which may improve VSTM development
  • The importance of books and teaching early reading - how to teach early reading to provide a basis for developing reading in school, including teaching sight words and letter-sounds and first phonics and how to use reading to develop language
  • Developing number and math skills - explains each of the steps children have to go through to learn to count and to begin to understand the number system and aspects of maths, time and money - sets out activities to support the children's learning about numbers 1 to 10 in small and structured steps to provide a solid foundation to build on in school
  • Encouraging motor development and independence in preschool - how to support motor progress and how to encourage practical independence as motor skills improve including at meal times, washing, dressing and toilet training
  • Supporting play and cognitive development - how children learn through play and the benefits of a responsive teaching approach - practical strategies for supporting play, improving attention and encouraging persistence in play and problem solving - describes activities to teach early colour, size and shape concepts, ordering and sequencing to support maths learning
  • Effective education and inclusion - considers the ways in which early years and preschool settings need to prepare to support the learning and development of a child with Down syndrome whether they are special or mainstream settings including the use of appropriate assessments and addressing staff training needs - considers the key factors which contribute to successful inclusive practice
  • Families, support and a shared vision - discusses the research on how families respond to and are affected by bringing up a child with Down syndrome - presents a vision of our children’s futures and puts the information covered in the course into the context of preparing child with Down syndrome to lead a full and meaningful life with the same rights and needs as everyone else


All our courses offer:

  • Video presentations - lasting between one and two hours, available to course participants for streaming on-demand
  • Handouts - download copies of the slides in the presentation to work through
  • Assessments - check your learning with online assessments
  • 'In practice' checklists - guidance and checklists to assist course participants to identify how to apply what they have learned for each child that they work with
  • Further reading, references and resources - references to research discussed in each module, together with further reading and recommended resources are provided for those wishing to develop their knowledge further
  • Discussion forums - course participants can ask DSE tutors questions and share their experiences in a private online discussion forum
  • Certificates of achievement - certificates for participants who successfully complete each module and assessment in this course

Course duration

We recommend setting aside around two hours per week for 10 weeks to study this course.

We provide access to the course for up to 26 weeks, during which time participants must successfully complete each module and all of the assessments in order to receive a certificate of achievement.

How to book

The course is available to participants in any country - all you need is a reliable Internet connection sufficient for streaming videos.

You can order via either of our online stores - in the UK (in British Pounds) or in the US (in US Dollars).

Please note that at the present time course registration is automatic for orders placed via our UK store, whereas we are completing registration manually for orders received via the US store (our goal is to this within 1 working day). We are working to automate registration from the US store as soon as possible.