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Self talk in person's with Down syndrome

Middle Tennessee Down Syndrome Association Taekwondo Demonstration
Middle Tennessee Down Syndrome Association Taekwondo Demonstration
Vicky Pitner

Talking to oneself is something most of us do at times. Done to help cope with stress, frustration, or to talk ourselves through a difficult situation, "self talk" is normal.  But "self talk" for person's with Down syndrome is particularly useful, as it allows the individual to problem solve or express feelings to themselves rather than discuss them with other people.

For children with Down syndrome, their intellectual development, such as learning new skills and thinkin, can be improved through self talk. It can also help monitor behaviors. For example, a child repeating "be good, be good" in a social setting when expectations are high may help the child "be good."

Just as with typical children, children with Down syndrome often have imaginary friends and a robust fantasy life. Adults may continue with these behaviors but may limit the talk in more private areas, or when  alone. They often use "self talk" for entertainment, by talking with a "fantasy friend" or repeating passages from favorite movies or stories. Often the person's speech is much clearer during the "private speech" than when conversing with another person, perhaps because of less social pressure.

About Self Talk:

  1. Don't shame or embarrass the person for doing "self talk."

  2. Don't try to stop the "self-talk" but help the person find socially appropriate places to talk.

  3. If the talking bothers others, find a signal to give the person so they can become quiet.

Self talk can provide insight to family members if something may be worrying the person with Down syndrome and talking out the situation may resolve the issue. However, if dramatic changes occur in the behavior, such as frequency, agitation, sadness, fear, or increase in volume, it may indicate more than just "self talk", and the need for an assessment from a physician may be necessary. 

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  • Dina 4 years ago

    so glad I researched this. I had a friend nurse tell me my sister was psychotic. I was very defensive because I know my sister is not but does self talk. She is 42 and has lived with us four years since mom passed. I'm sure its been stressful for her and this is a way for her to cope. We love her and think its okay.