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Down Syndrome and Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapists (OT’s) work with individuals with Down syndrome to help them learn and gain mastery in skills they need to be independent such as self-care skills (ex. dressing, bathing, feeding), fine motor skills, gross motor skills, school performance, and leisure activities. Individuals with Down syndrome are now, more than ever, being seen accomplishing great milestones such as graduating college, participating in social and recreational activities in their communities, joining and thriving in the workforce, living independently, and much more.

Occupational Therapy (OT) can work on almost every aspect of one’s life, so interventions should begin as soon as one has a diagnosis of Down syndrome and should continue throughout the individual’s life as needed.

Where OT can help:

  • Infancy

  • Help mothers whose children are having difficulties with feeding because of weak muscles in their cheeks, tongue, and lips

  • Early childhood

  • Focus on mastering motor skills for independence, low muscle tone, loose ligaments at the joints, and visual and auditory deficits

  • Provide suggestions on optimal positioning and adaptations that may help the child become more independent

  • School-aged children

  • Address self-care skills like dressing, fine and gross motor skills like cutting with scissors, writing, or completing multistep classroom activities to facilitate participation in school activities

  • Adults

  • Helping them find and retain productive work, learn independent living skills (ex. money management, cooking), and participating in active recreation for health maintenance


Bruni, M. (2001). Occupational therapy and the child with Down syndrome. Retrieved October 3, 2008, from

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