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Down Syndrome and Talking Mats

Why does Talking Mats work so well with children and adults with Down syndrome?

We have a great bit of video footage of Keir, a boy with Down’s syndrome, aged 9 years. He is using Talking Mats to talk about his life. Although Keir’s expressive speech is understood by his immediate family it can be harder for unfamiliar people to follow. Keir was able to communicate very clearly using his Talking Mat about what was going well and not so well. He used Makaton and key words to elaborate on some of his responses.Below is Keir’s Talking Mat. It looks like it would be good to do a submat on school.


We started to think about why Talking Mats can be such a great support for people with Down syndrome.

Here are our top ten reasons !

  1. In Down syndrome visuo-spatial processing is often viewed as a strength. Talking Mats uses a visual approach to communication.
  2. Receptive language skills are often better than expressive language skills. Talking Mat allows a thinker to express themselves visually talking the pressure off expressive speech.
  3. Vocabulary skills are often regarded as a strength and the Talking Mats framework relies on conceptual understanding.
  4. Talking Mats allows for extra processing time and space for the thinker to place the image on the mat. Reviewing the mat helps with auditory memory problems.
  5. The interviewer can then use the mat for conversation recasting (modelling a complete sentence) – so what you told me is……” You love going swimming because you like jumping in the water”
  6. Talking Mats allows you to explore topics that are of interest to the child or adult as well as topics that are functionally relevant.
  7. The Talking Mats images have words. A whole word approach can help literacy development. Symbols and words can also prompt speech production.
  8. Open questions are used which help to facilitate expression.
  9. Talking Mats can be used in lots of different settings: at home, in school and in the community.
  10. A Talking Mat conversation is FUN and supports relationship building and social closeness.

We know that every person with Down’s syndrome is a unique individual and we want to support them to further their communication, develop their interests, and become as independent as possible. Talking Mats is a great tool – why not give it a go. There’s lots more information on resources and training on