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.

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!

    The 2019-2020 program application has closed. Program participation is limited to 18 students. DSACT and Speak Freely staff are currently reviewing application materials. All applicants will be informed of their status by mid-December. The program begins in January 2019. Students and their parents participate in twice-monthly sessions from January to November 2019 (no session in July 2019). Following a break in December, participants and parents will have monthly sessions from January 2020-May 2020. 


  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).

DSACT will begin accepting new applications for this speech therapy program at the end of summer 2019.

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 this program was made available by DSACT, the Kozmetsky Family Foundation, RGK Foundation, Children's Special Needs Network, and the Austin Community Foundation.

volunteer with the peak program

The PEAK speech therapy program needs volunteers for a few hours, 1-2 Saturdays each month to assist in child-directed play, preparing the space for instruction, as well as aiding families with challenging behaviors. The program is located at Speak Freely, a private practice in south Austin. No experience is required other than the love of children! Speech therapy volunteers must be at least 16 years old. If you are interested in volunteering during the Saturday sessions, please sign up here.

DSACT wants to thank Speak Freely for partnering with us to create this program and for the generous discount they give to DSACT which allows us to offer this program at a very low cost to our members.