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Home and community literacy experiences of individuals with Down syndrome Trenholm, Brian

Abstract

Home and community literacy events have a significant impact on literacy development in children. Although there is growing interest about the potential for people with Down syndrome (DS) to become literate, little is known about the literacy events this group experiences. This survey study was conducted to gain a detailed understanding of the home and community literacy experiences of individuals with DS. The data were collected from 224 parent/guardians across Canada to obtain descriptive statistics about the reading and writing experiences of persons with DS in general. The respondents were asked to indicate their literacy goals and priorities for their children with DS, the literacy resources utilized at home and in the community, perceived barriers to literacy attainment, and solutions for alleviating the perceived barriers. The results were grouped according to age when possible, in order to better understand the course of literacy development. Overall, the number of respondents who indicated their children with DS could read and write appeared somewhat higher than in previously published estimates, although the number reporting advanced reading levels was similar to previous reports. The wide range of reading and writing materials observed in use at home appeared to be much greater than the range of materials actually used by children with DS. Relatively few of the parents who read storybooks to their children reported asking higher-level questions, suggesting that some parents might benefit from support in this activity. Many respondents reported using the library and many expressed concerns about the quality and scarcity of literacy programs. The results are discussed with regard to their implications for how parents, caregivers, teachers, and program providers can encourage literacy development in persons with DS, and suggestions for future research are made.

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