Why is there a gap between research and practice in SLT for people with Down syndrome?

People who have Down syndrome have complex speech, language and communication issues and need speech and language therapy (SLT) to support them to develop the skills they need. This is well understood and widely acknowledged by families, therapists and the government.

There is much less consensus on what form the SLT support should take. The differences between what families tell us they need, what research suggests will be most effective, and what is actually offered in practice, paints a picture of a system that is not evidence-based and is not meeting the needs of children and adults who have Down syndrome.

They are being let down at every turn, and this failure to provide effective services has lifelong consequences.

This is the focus of a new publication in the Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, ‘Speech and Language Therapy services for people with Down syndrome: the disparity between research and practice’ co-authored by Nicola Hart, DSI Member Support Team Leader.

This paper is based on information you have supplied through surveys and conversations, and, as always, we are hugely appreciative of your time and willingness to get involved with research. Any new research adds to the evidence base, and helps us lobby for improvements that will make a difference.