The Learning Program

The Learning Program is a literacy and numeracy strategies and education program for students with Down syndrome and their parents and caregivers.


Our curriculum was developed by the Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County in California in partnership with researchers, educators and therapists. It is an innovative program that delivers evidence-based educational support to children, parents and teachers. The program’s goal is to improve the overall development and academic success of all children with Down syndrome. The program is broken down into three levels:

Level 1

Level 1 is geared towards families with a child between the ages of 3-7 years old, or preschool to 1st grade. This class is best suited for families of students that are beginning to show an interest in letters and numbers and can attend to an activity for 5-10 minutes.

Students should be able to understand about 50 words. This class focuses on building beginner literacy skills and materials are geared towards whole word (sight) acquisition though we quickly move-on to carrier phrases.

Level 2

Level 2 is geared towards families with a child between the ages of 6-9, or 1st to 3rd grade, depending on skill level. Level 2 builds on skills acquired in Level 1, developing beginning text-based comprehension skills such as understanding new vocabulary and recalling what they have just read.

Students entering this class should have a solid foundation of Level 1 skills and a bank of sight words as we will be working with predictable text such as carrier phrases and sentences with familiar pattern and repetition.


The in-person program will meet at DSC on Tuesdays. The virtual program will meet via Zoom every Saturday. All of the DSC’s teaching staff has experience working with children and virtual learning. Take-home materials will be sent to families every month to help parents and caregivers reinforce student learning at home. The schedule each month will look like the following:

In-Person Schedule 

Week 1 – Parent/Caregiver Session (Zoom)

Week 2– Math & Literacy Session 
Week 3– SLP & OT Session
Virtual Schedule:

Week 1 – Parent/Caregiver Session

Week 2– Math & Literacy Session 

Week 3– SLP & OT Session


*Monthly schedules will vary based on holidays. A full schedule will be sent to families after registration


Sara Behrens, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA

This will be my fourth year with The Down Syndrome Community as a teacher for The Learning Program. Working with the children and families is always a highlight of my month. I graduated from the Applied Behavior Analysis program in 2019 with my Masters of Education, and received my BCBA certification shortly after.  Outside of The Learning Program, I work for the Experimental Education Unit (EEU) as a head teacher in Project DATA. I am passionate about inclusive education and teaching through play! In my free time, I enjoy swimming, reading, spending time with family and friends and my cat, Lilly.

Tiffanie Hawkins, M.ED., BCBA, LBA

Tiffanie is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. She received her master's in Applied Behavior Analysis at the University of Washington in 2015 and has been supporting families and children 2-10 years old in their homes and communities for the past 6years. Prior to working as a BCBA in Seattle Tiffanie worked in an inclusive pre-school setting in Arizona, where she is originally from, supporting individuals with developmental disabilities. She is so excited to join the DSC Learning Program this year and especially looks forward to incorporating fun activities and positive behavior supports into each Math and Literacy session! Outside of work Tiffanie enjoys running, paddle boarding, sounders games and is constantly on the search for the best guacamole in Seattle.

Alison Wilhelm, M.Ed

Alison is currently a third-year doctoral student Special Education at the University of Washington. Her passion is to pursue inclusive, equitable and academically rigorous instruction for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. At UW, she is the current project coordinator for the Reading Development Project and an instructional coach for the SPED teacher preparation program. She previously earned her Master of Education and Bachelor’s degrees from Vanderbilt University. Prior to beginning her Ph.D., she taught for 8 years in a variety of educational settings in Nashville Public Schools. She has worked with young children through young adults with developmental disabilities, and collaborated closely with parents, practitioners, and researchers during her time in the field. Alison and her family are enjoying getting to know and explore the Pacific Northwest!

Erin Lovelace M.S., CCC-SLP

Erin graduated from the University of Nevada with a B.S and M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology. Erin's clinical skills are diverse. She has worked in private practice clinics, provided home treatment for children ages birth-three, and treated students in preschools, elementary schools, and middle schools. Erin has experience working with receptive and expressive language deficits, articulation and phonology deficits, adult and childhood stuttering, apraxia of speech, autism spectrum disorders, Down Syndrome, swallowing and sensory feeding difficulty, and voice disorders. She has participated in Hanen Parent Training sessions and has a range of continuing education experiences, including trainings related to pediatric feeding, Asperger's Syndrome, childhood apraxia of speech, management of challenging behavior, and much more. Additionally, she has taken several other courses related to motor speech disorders including the Kaufman Approach, and PROMPT. She enjoys collaborating with parents and other professionals, including Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, ABA therapists, and teachers, to provide the most effective intervention experience. Erin's favorite aspects of therapy are watching the happiness that children and families encounter when they can communicate more effectively or how a child's eyes light up the first time, he enjoys a new food.

Johanna Karn, MOT OTR/L

Johanna works as an OT at Valley Medical’s Children’s Therapy clinic. She was born and raised in Washington and received her degree at University of Washington. She worked as a caregiver for adults and children with disabilities before becoming an OT. She love working with kids, animals and baking.


DSC’s goal is to ensure our programs and services are provided to all, regardless of their family’s ability to pay. The annual cost of Learning Program is $2,400 per child. DSC subsidizes this amount to ensure that families are able to receive the services at a reduced tuition cost or none at all.

The Learning Program’s tuition is a one-time, non-refundable $500 which includes books and class materials. There is an option for families who already have books. That is a one-time, non-refundable $300.

Tuition goes towards:

  • Books
  • Class materials
  • Teaching staff
  • Supplies

*DSC Now Accepts DDA Hours for Learning Program. If you will be using DDA Hours, please email [email protected] before registering.

A sliding fee scale is available based on each family’s needs. Please contact Katelyn Peters at [email protected] for more information or to see if you qualify.

"I cannot say enough good things about the Learning Program. We’re currently enrolled in Level 1 and have learned so much already! My daughter, Phoebe, loves the books and study cards. The reading and math activities have not only helped her academically, but they’ve also become a fun family activity. The Learning Program instructors are phenomenal, as they not only provide tips for learning, but also strategies for handling challenging behavior that can arise. Phoebe also loves playing with her friends while I am in class and is always excited to attend the Learning Program. I highly recommend this amazing program to all families!"
—Molly L.


The Learning Program is open to children in Pre-School – 6th Grade. 

Each family must complete a registration form and complete the tuition payment by the registration deadline.  

2021-2022 Learning Program Registration is now closed.