Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Gail Bass


Child Development; Down Syndrome; Motor Skills


Parents of children with Down syndrome want their child to be as successful as other children in areas of development, specifically play. Play is crucial to a child's development as it assists with the progression through childhood developmental stages. This can help lay a foundation for learning daily life skills such as dressing, feeding, and social interaction. For children with Down syndrome, performing daily living tasks may be more difficult as fine and gross motor skills are affected by low-tone, cognition level, and coordination. Providing children with a variety of play activities to build both fine and gross motor skills can help increase independence and support development.

Throughout the literature review, it was noted that there is currently an abundance of research regarding typically developing children and the benefits of play. There is a lack in literature focused on children with Down syndrome and how play can support development within this population. A common theme arising in the literature is parental perceptions about the uncertainty involved in raising a child with Down syndrome. Parents felt as if they do not have enough information on what they can do at home to encourage fine and gross motor skill development and have few resources they may utilize. Some parents reported receiving information from their child's occupational therapist, however, parents felt as if more information is necessary (Menear, 2007). The few parental resources currently available contained language that may decrease user-friendliness and negatively impact the use of some resources. Current literature also described parental concerns about keeping their child active in order to maintain health while providing activities that allow their child to be successful. Occupational therapists can help bridge the gap between activity and success by providing parents with education and suggestions as to what activities can help their child build fine and gross motor skills while using playas the basis for activity.

The methodology of this scholarly project included a review of literature regarding play and the impact on the development of children with Down syndrome as well as typically developing children. Local bookstores and internet websites were also explored to determine the availability of resources for parents of children with Down syndrome.

To address motor goals through play and structured developmental activities, an educational manual was developed for parents of children with Down syndrome and it is designed to be used under the guidance of an occupational therapist. The manual addresses two types of play; active, which involves gross motor activities such as running and jumping and quiet play which encourages fine motor skills through table-top activities such as coloring, drawing, and using hands to manipulate objects. Parents are able to choose activities which are suitable for their child based on the resources available at home and the energy level of the child.