Education Supports

What you need to know

It is important to have HIGH LEARNING EXPECTATIONS for children who have Angelman Syndrome. Encourage use of the core educational curriculum and modify it in order to meet the individual needs of the child.

Individualized, flexible, and appropriate educational strategies/supports are keys to success.

  • Developmental testing may be difficult because of attention, activity, speech and motor issues.
  • Formalized testing has limitations. Make sure testing consists of observations in natural settings.

  • Full range of training and enrichment programs should be available.
  • Children can do well in regular classrooms when provided with supports needed to be successful.
  • The IEP team will help determine what supports and changes are needed.
  • Full inclusion with therapies in the regular school setting provides greater learning opportunities. 
  • It is crucial that children with AS be able to make authentic choices in classroom and life.

  • Unstable or non-walking children may benefit from physical supports in the classroom.
  • They may need extra supports/people to help them in their academic program and inclusion.
  • Children who have AS with more motor issues may need extra space and/or minimal obstructions to be safe.
  • Physical therapy
    • Adaptive chairs or positioning support may be helpful.
  • Occupational therapy
    • May help with fine motor and oral motor control
    • Sequencing may be hard due to fine motor challenges.

  • They may pay more attention when they are naturally curious.
  • High interest is a sign that child is ready to learn sign language and other ways to communicate.

Language challenges are significant.

  • Use of 1 or 2 words consistently is rare.
    • This may be due to:
      • Motor problems (low tone in oral area)
      • Oral structures (protruding tongue)
      • Intellectual disability
      • Oral apraxia (difficulty with motor planning)
  • Most communicate by pointing, using gestures, and using communication boards and AAC devices.
  • When children have difficulty communicating, they may resort to pulling hair, hitting, biting. Make sure they have a communication system that is effective for their needs. Frustration with communication is often the reason for negative behavior. May not need a behavior plan but rather an effective communication system.
  • Imitation is difficult. This might not be the best method to teach communication and related skills.
  • Maintain high expectations as abilities and methods vary widely.
    • Comprehension is greater than output.

What you can do

Teach learning strategies for non-verbal expression.

  • Consider new technology, computers, and manual signed systems (ASL, SEE, etc.), depending on fine motor skills. Focus on non-verbal methods of communication such as eye contact, pointing, gesturing, and physical movement.
  • When starting to use an AAC device, host a training session for those educators and friends who are most actively involved in the student’s life.
  • Use augmentative communication aids such as picture cards or communication boards early.
  • Communication should work with child’s desire to socially interact with others in natural and functional settings such as the home environment, extracurricular settings, and the classroom.
  • Make sure children have opportunities for choice and control in their lives and
  • Incorporate typically developing peers into their therapy to promote social interaction as well as provide typical models of language.
  • If a child uses multiple means of communication, ensure all who work with him have the knowledge of when to use one method vs. another.
  • Find an AAC system that allows for maximal social reciprocal communication.
  • Anyone interacting with the child should have education and training on how to encourage reciprocal communication with the device.
    • When starting to use an AAC device, host a training session for those educators and friends who are most actively involved in the student’s life.
  • Modeling is important for the use of the AAC device and to encourage its use.
  • Continue with strategies that improve oral control to maximize their potential as oral speakers.

  • Physical, speech, and occupational therapy to enable walking, proper positions, hand use, communication needs, etc.
  • Bracing and surgery may be needed to align legs.
  • Hypermotoric behaviors are often resistant to behavioral therapies.
  • Ensure all areas are safe, free of obstacles.
  • You may want additional information about your child’s disability, early intervention, school services, therapy, local policies, transportation, and much more. Every state in the USA has at least one Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) to offer families just this kind of information. To find your state’s center, go to the Center for Parent Information and Resources.