Professor Sue Buckley OBE

  • Director of Science and Research, Down Syndrome Education International
  • Director of Science and Research, Down Syndrome Education USA
  • Emeritus Professor of Developmental Disability, University of Portsmouth, UK

Sue Buckley is a leading expert in education and development for young people with Down syndrome. Sue began research examining early reading instruction for children with Down syndrome in 1980 and founded Down Syndrome Education International in 1986. Her research and contributions to the lives of young people with Down syndrome has been widely recognised through numerous awards.

Sue Buckley is a Chartered Psychologist with over 40 years of experience in the field of developmental disability. Sue read Psychology at the University of Reading, UK, and trained in Clinical Psychology. She worked in the National Health Service for several years and moved to teaching in the Psychology Department at the University of Portsmouth in 1975.

Sue continued clinical work in the community establishing early intervention services in the 1970s and began research into the learning needs of children with Down syndrome in 1980. She continued to teach and research in the University as well as establish the work of Down Syndrome Education International from 1980. She also worked on national and local government bodies tasked with improving services for individuals with disabilities.

Sue was awarded a personal chair and appointed Professor by the University in 1994 in recognition of her work in research and teaching in developmental disability. In 2000, she left the University to work full-time for DSEI while retaining her research links with the University, which awarded her Emeritus Professor status.

Sue has travelled widely to speak at conferences and training events and she is in high demand as a speaker. She has also published widely for families, practitioners and researchers and played a leading role in stimulating growth in research into the education and development of children with Down syndrome worldwide.

Sue's unique contribution to the scientific understanding of Down syndrome and to improving early intervention and education for children with Down syndrome has been widely recognised by families, Down syndrome organisations and colleagues. She has received many awards, including:

  • the inaugural scientific award at the first international Biennial Scientific Conference on Down Syndrome in 1998
  • an OBE for her services to special needs education in the Queen's 2004 Birthday Honours List
  • the Theodore D Tjossen Research Award by the National Down Syndrome Congress in the USA in 2005
  • National Down Syndrome Congress' Education Award "for improving the lives of children with Down syndrome by developing innovative research-based education techniques" in 2016

Sue is knowledgeable about most aspects of the development of children and adolescents with Down syndrome, but her special area of expertise is cognitive development, particularly language, literacy and memory development. Sue also has firsthand experience of many of the issues that affect families as the eldest of her three children, Roberta, has Down syndrome and was adopted into Sue's family when a baby.

"Sue Buckley is one of the foremost global experts on education for children with Down syndrome. Her pioneering work over more than 25 years has enabled thousands of children in the US, the UK and elsewhere to learn with their peers and receive the education they deserve."
(National Down Syndrome Society, USA)

Selected publications

  • Burgoyne, K., Buckley, S.J. & R. Baxter. R. (2021) Speech production accuracy in children with Down syndrome: relationships with hearing, language, and reading ability and change in speech production accuracy over time. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 65, 1021-1032.
  • Mason-Apps, E. , Stojanovik, V. , Houston-Price, C. , Seager, E. , Buckley, S. (2020) Do infants with Down syndrome show an early receptive language advantage? Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research , 63 (2). pp. 585-598.
  • Mason-Apps, E. , Stojanovik, V. , Houston-Price, C. , Buckley, S. (2018) Longitudinal predictors of early language in infants with Down syndrome: a preliminary study. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 81 pp. 37-51.
  • Burgoyne, K., Baxter, R. & Buckley, S. (2014). Supporting the literacy skills of children with Down syndrome. Chapter in R. Faragher and B. Clarke (Eds.), Educating Learners with Down Syndrome. pp 195-220. Oxford, UK; Routledge Education.
  • Bennett S, Holmes J and Buckley S (2013). Computerized memory training leads to sustained improvement in visuospatial short term memory skills in children with Down syndrome. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 118 (3), 179-192.
  • Burgoyne, K., Duff, F., Snowling, M., Buckley, S. & Hulme, C. (2013). Training phoneme blending skills in children with Down syndrome. Child Language Teaching and Therapy. 29 (3) 273-290.
  • Burgoyne, K., Duff, F. J., Clarke, P. J., Buckley, S., Snowling, M. J. and Hulme, C. (2012). Efficacy of a reading and language intervention for children with Down syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53, 1044-1053.
  • Buckley, S. J. & Johnson-Glenberg, M. C. (2008) Increasing literacy learning in Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome. In J. E. Roberts, R.S. Chapman & S.F. Warren (Eds.) Speech and Language Development and Intervention in Down Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome. (pp 233-254). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
  • Buckley S.J., Bird G., Sacks B., Archer T. (2006). A comparison of mainstream and special education for teenagers with Down syndrome: Implications for parents and teachers. Down Syndrome Research and Practice. 9(3), 54-67.
  • Byrne, A., MacDonald, J., & Buckley, S. J. (2002). Reading, language and memory skills: A comparative longitudinal study of children with Down syndrome and their mainstream peers. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 72(4), 513-529.
  • Fletcher, H., & Buckley, S. (2002). Phonological awareness in children with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 8(1), 11-18.
  • Nye, J., Fluck, M., & Buckley, S. (2001). Counting and cardinal understanding in children with Down syndrome and typically developing children. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 7(2), 68-78.
  • Stores, R., Stores, G. & Buckley, S. J. (1996). The pattern of sleep disorders in children with Down's syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities. 9(2), 145-159.
  • Buckley, S.J (1995). Increasing the conversational utterance length of teenagers with Down's syndrome. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 3(3), 110-116.
  • Laws, G. MacDonald, J. & Buckley, S.J. (1996) The effects of a short training in the use of rehearsal strategy on memory for words and pictures in children with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 4(2), 70-80.
  • Laws, G. MacDonald, J., Buckley, S.J. & Broadley, I. (1995) Long-term maintenance of memory skills taught to children with Down's syndrome. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 3(3), 103-109.
  • Buckley, S. J. & Sacks, B. I. (1987). The adolescent with Down's syndrome - life for the teenager and for the family. Portsmouth: Portsmouth Polytechnic.
  • Buckley, S. J., Emslie, M., Haslegrave, G, & LePrevost, P. (1986). The development of language and reading skills in children with Down's syndrome. Book and videotape. Portsmouth: Portsmouth Polytechnic.
  • Buckley, S. J. (1985). Attaining basic educational skills: reading, writing and number. In D. Lane & B. Stratford (Eds.), Current Approaches to Down's Syndrome. (pp. 315-343) Eastbourne: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.