Join the Canadian Down Syndrome Society and speakers from the Down Syndrome Research Foundation for a one-day conference for educators who are working to maximize successful outcomes for students with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. Learn about overall learning strengths and characteristics, behaviour support, developing an effective reading program, use of visual supports to maximize communication success, and increasing independence and function in school aged children. This day has been designed especially for educators including classroom teachers, resource teachers, education assistants, and other professionals who work in the school setting with an emphasis on translating the latest knowledge about Down syndrome into practical strategies that can be readily implemented in a school setting. DSRF staff will be on hand throughout the day to answer your questions and there will be ample time to explore our favourite resources.


8:30–10:00 Profiles of Learning and Development in Down Syndrome

Susan Fawcett

Participants will learn what we currently know about the overall characteristics and learning style of people who have Down syndrome, and how we can apply this knowledge when working with these students. The impact of health factors, behavioural profiles, cognitive development, and physical and sensory needs will be discussed. 

10:00–10:30 Break

10:30–12:00 Breakout Sessions

Early Reading: Building a Foundation

Danielle McKinney

The learning profile of students with Down syndrome will be used as a foundation for understanding how reading instruction can be modified and adapted to meet the unique needs of these learners. Participants will be introduced to the fun, hands on methods used to teach beginning readers in the DSRF’s one to one reading program. We will also look at how early reading instruction can be beneficial for increasing engagement, expressive and receptive language and reading and listening comprehension.

OT Strategies to Maximize Success in the Classroom

Hina Mahmood

We will review common challenges faced by school aged children with Down syndrome in the classroom. We will discuss general ergonomic positioning, environmental adaptations and sensory strategies to facilitate success. Teachers and education assistants will also learn how to support and develop children’s fine and gross motor skills to optimize success in the classroom setting. 

12:00–1:00 Lunch

1:00–2:30 Top 10 Positive Behaviour Support Strategies for Students with Down Syndrome

Susan Fawcett

Positive Behaviour Support is a values-focused, evidence-based approach to addressing problem behaviour. PBS principles and strategies tailored to students with Down syndrome will be shared to help educators and families promote appropriate behaviour and interactions from an early age.

3:00–4:30 Breakout Sessions

Creating and Implementing Visual Supports for the Classroom

Riley Rosebush

Participants will get practical ideas for using visual communication and behaviour support strategies, from paper based to technology, that can help students participate successfully and with greater independence. We will review the steps to using these key tools to help make the day smoother for you and the students you support. 

The Next Step: Developing Readers

Danielle McKinney

Using videos and a variety of educational materials we will demonstrate creative and effective methods for developing phonological awareness in learners with Down syndrome and discuss how and when to begin instruction in phonics. We will look at the benefits of combining instruction in these two areas of reading instruction for students with DS.