Individuals with Down syndrome who are verbal and have good articulation can have greater prospects for a self-directed life with enriching opportunities. DSACT's PEAK speech therapy program can help make those prospects a reality.

Learn more about the 2020 program during our webinar from 12-1pm on Wednesday, September 25!

Parents empowering articulation in kids (PEAK)

We offer our PEAK program in collaboration with select speech therapists at Speak Freely who have extensive experience and expertise working with individuals with Down syndrome. We know what is typical in speech and communication in individuals with Down syndrome, but also recognize that each person is unique. Our 18-month (16-session) program is offered at the Speak Freely clinic in South Austin and is:

  1. Parent-focused: You'll participate in small group instruction so you learn the "nuts and bolts" of speech and speech therapy so they understand WHAT to work on, WHY to work on it, and HOW they can work on it.

  2. Individualized: Speech therapists assess and analyze each your child/young adult's speech to develop a customized home exercise program. This ensures your child's patterns, needs, and deficits are addressed.

  3. Multifactorial: Our program has components to address nasality, motor planning, and muscle-based deficits - three areas commonly affected in individuals with Down syndrome.

  4. Hierarchical: You'll start with the basics and work step-wise to more intelligible speech.

  5. Eclectic: We use techniques and elements from multiple protocols and approaches - because one size does NOT fit all!

    Applications for the 2020 session will open in fall 2019.


  1. Must be between ages 4-25 years

  2. Have at least a 12-month gap since last participated in DSACT's speech therapy program OR have never have participated in DSACT's speech therapy program

  3. Must be able to focus on therapy work, remain seated for a therapy session, behave compliantly, and be non-verbal or need improvement in speech clarity.

  4. For each participant, one family member must commit to attend the monthly therapy sessions, and follow-through with therapy homework between sessions.

  5. The program is located at the Speak Freely facility in South Austin. Families must be able to travel to and from this location for services. Speak Freely is located at 2301 Riddle Road; Austin, TX 78748 (see map at right).

Program history

To help children and young adults with Down syndrome fulfill their potential to speak, and speak more clearly, we launched our first speech therapy program in January 2015. This low-cost program was open to individuals with Down syndrome in the Central Texas area who, with a family member, met eligibility criteria. Funding for the 2019 program year was provided by DSACT and Austin Community Foundation.

volunteer with the peak program

The Parent Empowering Articulation in Kids program has many volunteer opportunities for volunteers. The program is 18 months long and meets twice a month during the first year. All speech therapy volunteer opportunities are on Saturdays.

Evaluation days are primarily about room set up, video-taping, and helping to clean up while the therapists take kids back to their parents to get ready for the next participant.

Session days are spending time in a large gym space, playing with the participants (up to 6 kids) for approximately 45 minutes while the therapists provide parent instruction. After parent instruction, volunteers help clean up and observe the participants perform speech exercises/activities with parents. There is the occasional need to run errands to get items therapists may need during the session.

There have been many great student volunteers in the past and we hope they have learned a lot from the therapists and the experience. Speech therapy volunteers must be at least 16 years old. If you are interested in volunteering during the evaluation or session days, use the button below to sign up! If you have questions about PEAK volunteering, please contact Speak Freely at (512) 233-4000.

DSACT thanks Speak Freely for partnering with us to create this program.