← Go back

With the right educational support from the start, children with X & Y chromosome variations can thrive and can go onto lead happy, fulfilling and successful lives.

This section is intended to give an insight into some of the challenge’s children and individuals with an X & Y chromosome variation face and how parents, early educators and teachers can help.

There are other great resources that give more in-depth information, please have a look in our resources section.

It is highly likely that most early educators and teachers have worked with and taught someone with an X & Y chromosome variation, especially Klinefelter syndrome/XXY as it is believed that as many as 1:450 males have it. The more knowledge parents and education professionals have the better equipped they are to adapt teaching styles to ensure that children with X & Y chromosome variations succeed.

Potential challenges children and individuals with X & Y chromosome variations may face:

It is very important to know that X & Y chromosome variations are a spectrum of signs and symptoms, every individual is different and will be affected in varying ways and to different degrees. Some individuals may have very few signs and symptoms which have minimal impact on their lives, although others may face several challenges that can severely impact their lives.

Individuals with, particularly Klinefelter Syndrome/XXY, XYY and XXX syndrome typically have average to low average intelligence, their challenges lie within differences around comprehension of language, auditory processing and psychological growth.

Difficulties in the following areas may occur and be evident in the learning environment with children with Klinefelter syndrome/XXY, XYY and XXX:

  • Speech delay/expressive language disorder: 70%-80% will have language difficulties, most commonly verbal dyspraxia.
  • Receptive language challenges
  • Low muscle tone: affecting fine and gross motor skills and development
  • Lower skills in auditory, memory, confrontation naming (word retrieval), and verbal fluency
  • Specific reading disability: It is believed that 50% – 75% throughout childhood will be diagnosed with a reading disorder
  • Many boys have difficulty understanding what they read or may read slower
  • Problems with spelling and math
  • Depression/anxiety: Research suggests affects up to 70% of children and adolescents
  • Difficulty in conversation, expressing personal thoughts, opinions and needs may occur if learning difficulties aren’t addressed it can lead to lower academic achievement, reduced self-esteem, and behavior problems
  • May have difficulty putting thoughts, ideas, emotions into words
  • May find it hard to learn and remember words of common items
  • They may have difficulty processing what they hear
  • May appear to “tune out” or fidget because it takes longer to process information
  • May find it difficult to concentrate in a noisy class environment
  • Sensory integration difficulties
  • Sensitivity to sound, touch, movement
  • Attention deficits (ADHD): This is very common with 63% of children diagnosed with ADHD

Often learning challenges become more evident as the child gets older and tasks and the learning becomes more complex.


Many parents and caregivers don’t feel comfortable or are not ready to disclose their child’s diagnoses of an X & Y chromosome variant due to lack of knowledge and awareness of these disorders and for fear of discrimination and judgement. This is completely an individual choice and one that takes careful consideration. From an education perspective, disclosing the actual diagnoses isn’t the most important thing, but disclosing what challenges a child is displaying and living with is vital. Whether this is low muscle tone, anxiety, language development delays or other concerns if educators are not informed of the identified challenges and signs and symptoms that a child is demonstrating they cannot implement the right and appropriate tools to help ensure these challenges are fostered, built upon and most importantly are greatly reduced or eliminated. The longer identifies concerns and learning challenges are left the further behind children can become, in turn leading to peer and social isolation, leading to anxiety and depression.


Parents play a vital role in children’s learning, their education path, and make sure they are working collaboratively with early intervention and education professionals. These help ensure their children’s needs are understood, are met and learning and development is targeted to their child’s specific challenges and also focussed on harnessing and building on their strengths. Parents play a key and essential link to their child’s education journey and to helping cement a positive, productive and fulfilling future.


Education and learning start as soon as a child is born. Parents often underestimate the positive effects and importance of constantly chatting to their baby about what they are doing and what they are seeing and reading books every day. Reading to babies everyday contributes to the development of their growing brains and gives them a good start towards a lifelong love of reading and good literature. When you read to infants, it can also help language development as they are taking in information and beginning to learn about speech patterns. In addition, synapses connect between your infant’s neurons as you read aloud, positively affecting child development in many areas.

Infants tune in to the rhythm and cadence of our voices, especially the familiar voices of their parents and caregivers. While initially the rhythmic phrase, “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?”, for example, may not hold meaning, your baby is taking in the sounds of language and how they fit together.

As babies see a picture of a red bird in the book and you name the bird, they begin to make the connection between what you say and the picture of the red bird. The more you read that book, the stronger the connection. The repetitive storyline makes the book fun, engaging, and easier to remember.

Reading to babies is not only a way to inspire a love of books from infancy, but also an important way to grow a baby’s vocabulary – first it’s understanding vocabulary and later it’s speaking vocabulary.

Babies with X & Y chromosome variations benefits from attending playgroups, music groups from an early age to help develop social, interaction and communication skills.

It is important to have HIGH LEARNING EXPECTATIONS for children who have Klinefelter Syndrome/XXY, XYY and XXX.

Many individuals with X & Y chromosome variations such as Klinefelter syndrome/XXY, XYY and XXX grow up to be successful in academics, careers, and their personal lives with the right support, encouragement and tools.

Pre-school children

For many parents navigating the education system and getting the right support for their child are some of the biggest challenges they face, because this can be life changing for a child and individual, especially a child with potential learning challenges. The formal education years start in pre-school, this is also often the time when difficulties and struggles may be more evident like, motor and language delays and challenges with socialisation. It is important for families to link in with early intervention professionals if signs and symptoms are evident and act upon these quickly. Early intervention specialists can also help guide parents/guardians on what to look for in the pre-school setting. Deciding which pre-school, a child goes to will depend on many different factors, which can also be related to location and funds available.

Choosing a pre-school
Some key things for parents/caregivers to look for in the pre-school setting:

  • Viewing the pre-schools: Ensure you look at several places if you are unsure where to choose. Go and look at the pre-schools and talk to staff and get a feel for each pre-school.
  • Early intervention: It is highly recommended that if motor and language delays are evident that the chosen pre-school are willing to implement recommendations and strategies from the early intervention team.
  • Is the environment right for the individual child? If a child suffers from anxiety or sensory processing concerns (affected by very noisy environments) a big consideration is the size of the pre-school. Some children are extremely overwhelmed with large centres that have hundreds of children in them, other children thrive in large environments.
  • Parents/guardians should take their child with them: Often they can get a good gauge if they take their child along with them and observe how the child is in each different environment.

Primary school children

Choosing the most suitable Primary School for a child with an X and Y chromosome variation is often another challenging time for parents or guardians. It is important to remember that children are in Primary School for a minimum of 7 years, so choosing the right Primary School is very important to help ensure children with an X and Y variation reach their fullest potential and have an enjoyable learning and education journey and experience. A positive learning and school experience can also greatly help reduce mental health challenges that are frequently linked to these disorders, like anxiety and depression.

Primary School education plays a vital role in forming and setting the foundations for a child’s future, it affects a child’s social behaviour and intellectual development and focusses on developing their cognitive skills, social skills, emotional regulation, cultural and physical skills to the best of their abilities, preparing them for their further school career and ultimately their future workplace careers.

It is important for parents/caregivers to know that if their child starts at a Primary School and they realise it isn’t the right fit for their child they shouldn’t hesitate in looking for an alternative Primary School to change their child too, if the option is available. A positive and supportive learning environment that not only harnesses a child’s strengths and skills but also works on developing and implementing the appropriate strategies and tools to manage and alleviate challenges is vital if a child is going to reach their greatest and most fulfilling potential.

Tips for teachers supporting children with XXY, XYY and XXX in the Early Years of school

Creating an inclusive classroom for all children empowers families, children and teachers to succeed. Here are a few suggestions to ensure all children succeed in the early stages of their school experience.

  • Parents/guardians should decide where to send a child to school early. They should do as many school tours as they can and ensure they evaluate the ‘best fit’ for them and their child

Questions to ask when choosing a primary school
– What is the size of the school?
– What are the number and size of prep classes?
– Does the school have any previous experience with children with learning challenges and disabilities?
– Will their child physically have access to all school facilities?
– What support programs are available for a child with additional needs?

  • Get in contact with the chosen school’s teacher so that the parent/guardian and their child can meet them and begin to build a relationship
  • Attend all transition sessions held at the school. Teachers often run parent information sessions that will give parents/guardians valuable information about school, communication, booklists, and support services etc.
  • Prior to school commencing, it’s strongly encouraged that there are visits the school grounds as much as possible so that it becomes a safe, familiar environment for the child.
  • Ensure the child can use their new school equipment independently (opening lunch box, school bag, putting school clothing on and off)
  • Meeting fellow families starting school for the first time provides invaluable support in those early days

Developing a positive partnership with a child’s school
Developing a positive partnership with a child’s school is the basis for a positive and successful school experience for any child and family.

Spending time to get to know the school, its facilities, routines, staff and students and sharing important information about a child will help to develop and maintain this ongoing relationship.

Making sure there is good communication between parents/caregivers and the school will mean they are always up to date with their child’s progress and work in collaboration to implement tools and strategies to help combat and support identified challenges.

Teaching a primary school child with an X & Y chromosome variation
When working with children with X & Y chromosome variants, it is imperative that teachers remain flexible to the needs of the child – these needs may change daily so having a few different options available to children and families will ensure a smooth transition to school. For example:

Discuss how the students start their day – Is it a formal line? Are they allowed to come into the classroom to settle before the bell?

Discuss with your child’s teacher the support services already in place.
– What strategies are already in place that can be used in the classroom?
– Communicate the expectations of the beginning of school:
– Work on knowing the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make
– Aim to count to and from 20
– Build oral language skills by singing, rhyming, cooking etc.
– Read stories for enjoyment every day
– Play Puzzles, games and drawings
– Socialise with other children of the same age to build conflict resolution skills
– Recognise and write their name independentl

More importantly, Educators who have high expectations for all students have a direct impact on children’s self-esteem, motivation and self – efficacy (Morales, 2010).

Teachers supporting children with Klinefelter Syndrome/XXY, XYY and XXX must:

  • Communicate their high expectations to children every day
  • Be open to teaching and learning in new ways
  • Provide additional support when needed
  • Be responsive and reflective of any challenges
  • Involve all stake holders in child’s life (families, colleagues, medical professional, early intervention teams etc.).

Secondary school children

Going to school is an exciting and important time in a child’s development. Supporting a child with an X & Y chromosome variation to make the transition to primary and then secondary school can require careful planning and extensive research to make sure the school will be the right fit for a child.

It’s best to start planning early and there are a range of supports in place to help, including the child’s dedicated Student Support Group and various government programs.

Developing a positive partnership with a child’s school
As stated earlier developing a positive partnership with a child’s school is the basis for a positive and successful school experience for any child and family and is imperative that this positive relationship is built and carried on throughout a child and individuals education journey.

Spending time to get to know the school, its facilities, routines, staff and students and sharing important information about a child will help to develop and maintain this ongoing relationship.

Making sure there is good communication between parents/caregivers and the school will mean they are always up to date with their child’s progress. This communication can be formal (through regular Student Support Group meetings and parent–teacher interviews) or informal (quick catch-ups with teachers, email and phone communication as needed). For parents/guardians to communicate regularly with their child’s school, they could use their child’s school diary or planner, or even use a ‘communication book’ that travels between home and school in their child’s bag.

Student Support Groups
Student Support Groups support individual students with additional learning needs. The group that comes together to support a child will include:

  • Parents/caregivers/guardian
  • The child’s class or homeroom teacher
  • The school principal (or a nominee)
  • A parent advocate (if parents/guardians request one)
  • The child (if appropriate)
  • Other people who could support a child’s learning such as their therapist or other consultants.

The Student Support Group’s role is to:

  • Identify a child’s needs
  • Consider any adjustments to the curriculum
  • Regularly review and evaluate a child’s needs (for example, once a term)
  • Communicate and let the principal know about a child’s additional education needs and the resources required to meet those needs
  • Develop an Individual Learning Plan, discuss it with teachers, specialists and therapists and help to implement the plan.

Individual Learning Plans
One of the first tasks of the Student Support Group is to develop an Individual Learning Plan for a child identified as having additional learning needs. The plan should not only focus on the academic needs of a child but also their safety, behavioural, medical and personal care needs. The Individual Learning Plan should be flexible enough to allow for changes.

Individual Learning Plans are only developed for those areas of the curriculum where a child will need extra education support. This may only be for certain parts of the curriculum or it may be for the whole curriculum.

Choosing a secondary school
There are many things to consider when choosing the right secondary school for a child with an X & Y chromosome variation, including looking at a child’s strengths and interests, school facilities and the needs of your family. Every child and family are different and the school that is chosen should meet the child’s needs.

It is a good idea for parents/guardians to start planning for secondary school when their child is in grade four or five. This will allow plenty of time to explore and consider their options.

When considering their choices, they should think about:

  • The child’s strengths and interests – they might be academically minded or more interested in the arts or sports
  • Discuss options with the child and determine the child’s wishes – they might feel more comfortable at one school than another
  • Parents/guardians should trust their own instincts – gut reactions to a school should never be undervalued.

To help make the decision parents/guardians should:

  • Attend school open days, information evenings and join school tours to give them a feel for the school, its facilities, its focus, values and approach to learning.
  • Meet with the principal – they will get a good sense of the school from the principal’s responses to their questions and the attitude of other staff when they visit.
  • Physical environment (not a common concern with X & Y chromosome variations– if they can foresee access issues for their child, speak with the principal early about what modifications could be made to accommodate their child’s needs.
  • Program and curriculum – students with learning needs and disabilities can access and participate in education on the same basis as other students.
  • Schools must abide by the Disability Standards for Education 2005. See the fact sheet Disability rights, discrimination and the law PUT IN LINK
  • Care needs – They should ask how the school can help meet their child’s medical or personal care needs.
  • Social issues – They should ask how the school creates social interaction and find out about its anti-bullying policy.
  • Distance and travel – It’s important for parents/guardian to determine how will their child get to and from school?

Some Government schools are zoned, meaning that they can restrict entry to children who live within a certain geographical area close to the school. However, if the school has space, it can enrol children who live outside the zone.

Strategies that can be implemented in the learning and school environment

Parents of a child with an X & Y chromosome variation should work in collaboration with early educators, teachers, schools and their child’s early intervention team (if they have one). The more collaboration between those involved in the child’s life, the greater the outcomes and this helps ensure children can reach their full potential and lead a happy and fulfilling life.

These strategies will vary for each child’s needs and will also depend on the child’s age, level in their education journey and the level of challenges they face. There are some great resources for learning on this website which can be found in the resources section.

Some strategies that may be helpful to a child with an X & Y chromosome variant:

Communication Support
Communication often can be a large barrier for children with an X & Y chromosome variant, which can lead to frustration and social isolation when they feel unheard and misunderstood. Putting in key communication strategies is vital as communication impacts on every aspect of a child’s education. Some strategies may include:

  • Initiating appropriate and timely intervention by a speech and language therapist, this can help identify language and speech needs, help to keep on top of and combat ongoing language and speech delays and identify specific tools in the classroom to increase a child’s communication capacity. Children should be linked in with a speech therapist as soon as any language delays are identified
  • Promote language understanding by using; simple short sentences, visual prompts, and pictures. Visual prompts are powerful tools to help a child to communicate and also helps them decrease frustration as they can still participate in discussion.
  • Using a child’s experiences and interests to engage child in learning is very important when they have language delays
  • Allow extra time, repeat directions, provide lesson summaries, and record lessons so a child can listen again.
  • Have the child repeat directions to ensure they understand
  • Creating situations in which students can practice their skills in natural settings is suggested for therapy. Play based therapy is often the most effective form to engage children.
  • Allow opportunities to use descriptive expression throughout the day
  • Utilisation of alphabet boards or writing initial sounds on paper can help to alleviate frustration from articulation errors

Promote language development:

  • Link in with the speech therapists’ recommendations as each child is different
  • Provide ample time for responding, this allows a child’s expressive language to continually grow
  • Increase the child’s self-confidence by calling on them when they know answer
  • Encourage a child to repeat the questions before responding to ensure they understand
  • Allowing a child time to rehearse and respond, particularly if they are answering in front of a group
  • Work individually with the child to practice articulation errors and give them an opportunity in a fun learning environment to recognise their own sound errors, pausing and giving opportunities for self-correction or guidance

Academic supports, particularly for reading comprehension, writing and maths

  • Help with organisation by developing tools that suit the individual child. May include visual timetables, use of timers etc.
  • Present information in concrete manner, diagrams are often very useful
  • Provide routine, structure, and consistency, often children with Klinefelter syndrome/XXY, XYY and XXX thrive on more structure routine
  • Use manipulative materials to demonstrate concepts eg clay, playdough
  • Simplify verbal information and explain concepts clearly
  • Provide visual cues and instructions
  • Repeat information and use positive reinforcement
  • Provide quiet learning environment, background noise may be distracting particularly for those with sensory processing disorders
  • Help prioritise work and activities, so the child doesn’t feel overwhelmed and has a clear guide of what they need to do
  • Allow a “timeout” from concentration. Small breaks are often very effective, which can be as simple as the child getting up and stretching
  • Use technology when appropriate

Physical needs
Low muscle tone can impact a child and individual greatly. For some children with an X & Y chromosome variation that have low muscle tone, to even do mat or desk time they are working 5 to 10 times harder than other children to do the same task. These children often fatigue easily so implementing strategies to help combat this is very important. Some strategies may include:

  • Supporting motor development, coordination, improving tone though strategies suggested by an occupational therapist and physiotherapist.
  • Recognising when fatigue is setting in and giving the child a brief break. Examples might be during mat time they can stand up and stretch or even wriggle side to side on a specialised cushion
  • Modifying some equipment like the desk or chair that is used or simple use of pencil grips can help greatly
  • Working with children so they start to recognise early signs of fatigue and then implementing small strategies can be a big benefit

Supports for auditory processing
This can be greatly impacted in a noisy and busy classroom environment, some children can simply not hear the instructions or tasks that are required in these environments. Some of the following may be beneficial:

  • Instructions need to be repeated to ensure a child can hear and understands what is being said and asked
  • Poor concentration can be impacted by the child not being able to hear what is being said
  • Providing a non-distracting environment or tools within the environment can help, eg sensory or quiet corner
  • If the environment is going to be too noisy eg in indoor PE or music sound reducing headphones can be effective
  • Use visual boards, pictures and cues to ensure the child understands what has been said
  • Often the child repeating back instructions can solidify the instructions to them and determine if they have understood the instructions that have been given

Supports for emotional or behavioural issues
Emotional challenges and dysregulation are very common in children with Klinefelter syndrome/XXY, XYY and XXX which are often impacted by the many other challenges some children may face. These are often displayed and perceived as behavioural issues. Each child is individual and will respond differently to each approach, but it is important that specific strategies are identified early in a child’s education life, so they don’t escalate. Potential techniques may include:

  • Monitor and evaluate behaviour and emotions to determine if there are any triggers or specific times that these are heightened
  • If triggers are identified, work on a process to help decrease and eliminate these trgigger
  • Are these behavioural issues or something else like anxiety? Look at the displayed behaviours and determine if there are any specific underlying challenges that are impacting on them eg it may be at the start of the day, transitioning between classes, late afternoon etc.
  • Work with the child, parents, early intervention team to implement strategies so the child can recognise their emotional triggers and this can be implemented in the home and school environment
  • If behavioural issues are a great concern and are not being managed, engagement with a psychologist and/or behavioural occupational therapist is advantageous
  • Engage with the wellness group within the school, if they have one
  • Art, music or sand therapy can be an effective tool to help combat emotional and behavioural challenges

Supports for mental health concerns
It is believed that up to 70% of children with Klinefelter syndrome/XXY, XYY and XXX suffer from anxiety and/or depression. This is alarmingly high, this must be recognised early and strategies implemented to minimise this as soon as they have been identified. Some helpful techniques:

  • Recognising that some signs of behavioural challenges may in fact be due to a child’s anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns
  • Early recognition of anxiety and depression in children is vital and should not be left or brushed under the carpet
  • Discussions with the child can often help pinpoint any triggers or reasons why they may be feeling like this.
  • There are many techniques for anxiety in children that need to be trialled to fit each child’s needs eg.: use of distraction for younger children, mindfulness meditation, helping eliminate anxiety points, structure routine, minimising sudden and unplanned changes in routine, letting the child feel in control etc.
  • Engage with specialists trained with children suffering from anxiety and depression
  • Never ignore anxiety and depression in a child as it will not simply just go away, and they will not grow out of it without the appropriate support and guidance.

A child’s education journey helps shape, develop and pave their future.
With the right educational support children with an X & Y chromosome
variations can and will thrive.

Additional Resources

Suggested books to help children with anxiety

This is a list of suggested books that can help children grapple with anxiety and emotional challenges.

Suggested booklist for reading to the prep/foundation years

Reading to children is vital and should be a big part of a child’s life. Here is some suggested books that should be ready to the child in prep or foundation.

Presentation AXYS Conference 2018 – How can children thrive in the Primary School Setting. By Chloe Umbers

AXYS annual conference 2018 presentation from a primary school teacher discussing how we can ensure all children have the opportunity to learn and thrive and how the primary school setting can be adapted to each child.

Autism Spectrum Disorder in Males with Sex Chromosome Aneuploidy: XXY/Klinefelter syndrome, XYY, and XXYY

Neurodevelopmental concerns in males with sex chromosome aneuploidy (SCA) (XXY/Klinefelter syndrome, XYY, and XXYY) include many symptoms seen in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), such as speech-language impairment, verbal cognitive deficits, and social difficulties.

The Social Behavioral Phenotype in Boys and Girls with an Extra X Chromosome (Klinefelter Syndrome and Trisomy X): A Comparison with Autism Spectrum Disorder

The present study aimed to gain more insight in the social behavioral phenotype, and related autistic symptomatology, of children with an extra X chromosome in comparison to children with ASD.

Social Function in Multiple X and Y Chromosome Disorders: XXY, XYY, XXYY, XXXY

Studies on males with 47,XXY have revealed unique behavioral and social profiles with possible vulnerability to autistic traits. The prevalence of males with more than one extra sex chromosome (e.g., 48,XXYY and 48,XXXY) and an additional Y (e.g., 47,XYY) is less common, but it is important to understand their social functioning as it provides insight into treatment implications.

Load More