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Down’s Syndrome Oxford offers an Early Development Group for you and your child during term times, free of charge. Children over 15 months can attend with a parent or carer, but we limit each group to 4 children to allow the children to observe and turn-take whilst still holding their attention. They are offered to all our pre-school members and children will be invited to attend soon after their 1st birthday, depending on space availability in the groups.

Groups take place weekly on a Wednesday at Drayton Village Hall, near Abingdon. A map can be found on our Find Us page. While the EDGs are taking place, we also have use of the main play room and kitchen at the hall for our Stay and Play sessions. We welcome families to arrive early, and/or stay after their group to enjoy getting to know other families in DSO. Families of younger children who are not yet attending an EDG are extremely welcome to come to the Stay and Play sessions.

If you are interested in attending DSO’s Early Development Groups you must first complete a Registration of Interest form. Netty Lings, a DSO mum, coordinates the registration and attendance for all groups.

The 40 minute groups that we offer are designed to run alongside any early intervention your child may be receiving from EYSENITS (Early Years Special Educational Needs Inclusion Teachers), a service provided by Oxfordshire County Council.

The aims of the group are to develop communication skills, social interaction skills and prepare children for attending a nursery setting and eventually primary school, through group activities. We also aim to provide parents with the skills and ideas to continue their child’s development themselves at home. 

There is an emphasis on using sign language to aid communication. The language used is Makaton which has been developed by professionals at the Makaton Vocabulary Development Project since its first appearance in 1976. The activities should be engaging and fun to maximise the children's learning ability.

The children are grouped according to a combination of both their ages and their current communication strengths and needs with the aim of maximising the benefit of the groups to all children involved. Places are offered as they become available. Childcare for younger siblings is provided but must be booked in advance. You will be provided with full details once you have completed your registration form for your child to attend the EDGs.

As often as possible, we invite other professionals to attend both the EDGs and the Stay and Play sessions running alongside. Recent visitors have included; Kate Gills, Physiotherapist, Lesley Bucke (SALT) and Debbie Brookes (EYSENIT), Nicola Lathey (Private SALT from The Owl Centre) who come along to answer questions and queries which parents might have.

Who takes the groups?

The groups are run by three of our DSO mums: Sally Dubock, Netty Lings and Colette Lloyd. In addition to their own experiences of having a child with Down’s Syndrome, Sally and Netty are both Primary School teachers and Colette is a Speech and Language Therapist.

How to Register:

Down’s Syndrome Oxford has an open referral policy, allowing parents to refer their child to join the communication groups. Referrals are also accepted from any professional working with a child, with the consent of the parents/carers.

If you would like to register your child to attend our Early Development Groups please complete the registration form (download link below) and send it to Netty Lings at the address given on the form. We need these details so that we can plan for your child to attend as soon as a place is available, from the age of fifteen months onwards. We do offer a crèche for siblings.

If the groups are full, a waiting list is held, but parents will be invited to observe a session running or take part in organised training as it is available.

Should you have any questions regarding our Early Development Groups, please contact Netty.

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