The ‘Little Owls’ initiative is a joint approach in service of an early development and communication group of infants and young children with Down Syndrome between 1-3yrs. It has been developed in Galway city and has been running successfully since 2000 where 190 children have received service to date. Little Owls is a partnership between Voices for Down Syndrome Galway and the Brothers of Charity. It is a collaborative initiative between Community nurses in the Early Intervention Services, and a speech and language therapist, and this partnership has been the key to its success. The speech and language input for the group sessions is funded by our Voices for Down Syndrome Galway project, and provided by Mari Caulfield, Speech & Language Therapist. Little Owls, which is run on best practice, has many nationwide visitors, interested in early intervention support to infants with Down Syndrome.
Little Owls offers evidence based early intervention support and has also included Refresher LAMH evenings for parents, carers and families. There have been two research projects completed in partnership with NUIG, one of which has been published. The results have assisted in making positive changes to the Project, which aims to benefit the ongoing quality of service. Children attend with six others in a group, which is always attended together with parents.
Progression of goals through the two-year attendance, supports parents in early responsiveness and support to the child’s interactions. Goals also support the child’s listening, language comprehension & play, LAMH signing, early communication & words, relationships with their peers, and speech sound play and practice. Our senior group also prepare for preschool through early routines which will support their readiness. Parents have reported that meeting and working with other parents who have children with Down syndrome has been a great comfort and benefit to them.