Tara Poikey

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

Special Education

First Advisor

Ana Claudia Harten

Second Advisor

David Winters, Ph.D.


It is important for children to have effective socialization, no matter what type of disability they may have when it comes to communication. Friendship and play opportunities with others usually provide cognitive learning opportunities as well as social learning opportunities. For most children, school is a key setting for them to engage in friendships and develop social interactions. This study investigated eight special education teachers' perspectives on the communication needs of children with Down syndrome within the school context, as well as the teachers' knowledge and resources needed to facilitate their students' social interactions. The participants reported having little knowledge about specific speech and language skills needed to assist their students with Down syndrome to better communicate and interact with others. Even though most teachers felt they lacked specific training, some identified ways to facilitate communication in their classrooms. Among the teachers, those who reported more consistent collaboration with school speech-language pathologists (SLPs) felt better equipped to facilitate communication and social interactions with this population. Finally, the results of this study highlight the importance of interprofessional collaboration between special education teachers and SLPs to address the communication needs of students with Down syndrome.