Occupational therapy for children with Down syndrome can help with the acquisition of fine motor


Occupational therapy for children with Down syndrome can help with the acquisition of fine motor, cognitive and functional (life) skills that will assist to develop your child’s participation and independence and thus improve their quality of life. Occupational therapists can:
• assist development of fine motor skills such as grasping and pinching
• assist to develop play and cognitive skills
• improve participation and independence in functional activities (as dressing, toiletting, eating etc)
• improve arm, wrist and hand strength, coordination and control
• improve confidence and socialisation with peers through improved motor skills
• address sensory integration concerns
• school readiness / preparedness
• assist with transitional periods in your childs life to maximise their independence
• equipment and environmental modification as required
• cognitive development through play and learning
• provide advice to parents and home programmes to assist your child’s further development

Speech Language Therapy aims to develop communication skills. This refers to all the abilities we need to interact with people. Communication skills does not just mean ‘speaking’. In order to communicate we need to listen to and understand the message sent, we need to form a response and then transfer that message back. Speech Language Therapists treat problems that occur in any one of these stages. Communication can take place verbally (e.g. spoken language) and non-verbally (e.g. gestures, eye contact or tone), and both are very important. Children need to be able to communicate not only to interact with their world and people but also because communication is essential for academic ability. Speech Language Therapy helps young children reach their communication milestones; which are the foundation for social interaction and schooling. For older children and adults therapy focuses on the communication skills they will need in order to optimise independence and minimise isolation. Speech Language Therapy should start as early as possible and will continue to support an individual or family for as long as there are communication difficulties.

Music therapy

• It is a creative and invaluable therapeutic medium as it provides a safe, non-threatening, pleasurable, motivating, engaging, expressive, adaptable and temporal space conducive to change.
• Clinically informed music and music intervention are used within a therapeutic relationship that develops through shared musical experiences, to address physiological, emotional, social, cognitive and spiritual needs.
• Music therapy recognises the health, intact and innate potential in each individual, thus providing a more affirming, autonomous experience in the process of change/growth.
• Music is a whole brain phenomenon and thus addresses multiple issues simultaneously.

Specific benefits of music therapy for children with Down syndrome may include:

1. Improved attention and listening
2. Increased perceptual awareness
3. Sensory and psychological stimulation
4. Enhanced motor coordination and sensory-motor skills
5. Opportunities for experiencing a sense of agency and autonomy
6. Improved social and/or social-emotional skills
7. Enhanced cognitive abilities
8. Improved language and communication skills
9. Opportunity for self-expression and processing of emotions


The Down Syndrome Association, Tshwane, offers an interdisciplinary service at Masakhane Clinic, Ga-Rankuwa. The clinic provides a free professional service in the form of Occupational Therapy as well as Speech, Language and Audiology intervention. Masakhane services are facilitated by our occupational therapist as well as student partners, under the guidance of faculty from the Sefako Makgatho University (MEDUNSA).
Our client base includes children with Down Syndrome, as well as those with intellectual and physical challenges (e.g. Cerebral Palsy). These children are offered individual and/or group therapy sessions.
We value the partnership of a care-giver in the therapeutic program of a child. Care-givers are educated and trained so to become the key player in their child’s program. We also recognize the need for families to interact with those facing similar challenges. It is for this reason that time is allocated whereby care-givers engage in a facilitated support group.
Additional to the mentioned Masakhane services, we also:
• Enable every child to reach his/her full potential;
• Guide the care-giver in accessing the correct medical care at their local hospital by means of a referral system;
• Provide Speech-language-and-audiology students with a training and learning environment;
• Promote community awareness of children with challenges by means of Awareness Campaigns at local clinics.