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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Research report on speech and cognitive ability in children with Down syndrome

A new report on language development in children with Down syndrome was published online on Oct 13 2009:

Cleland J, Wood S, Hardcastle W, Wishart J, Timmins C. , Relationship between speech, oromotor, language and cognitive abilities in children with Down's syndrome, International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders. (doi: 10.3109/13682820902745453)

Despite a lot of investigation into communication impairment amongst people with Down syndrome that has produced a good deal of information, much remains unknown. This study aims to clarify the contribution of cognitive factors to communication:

...... whether speech is delayed or disordered is a controversial topic. Most studies suggest a delay, but no studies explore the relationship between cognitive or language skills and intelligibility.

The researchers concluded:

Children with Down's syndrome present with speech disorders characterized by atypical, and often unusual, errors alongside many developmental errors. A lack of correlation between speech and cognition or language measures suggests that the speech disorder in Down's syndrome is not simply due to cognitive delay. Better differential diagnosis of speech disorders in Down's syndrome is required, allowing interventions to target the specific disorder in each individual.

The abstract is available online here, and while the full text can be purchased, the publisher's charge is $US86 for 24 hour access. Our librarian is investigating alternative access options.

The research was done at the Speech Science Research Centre, Musselburgh, UK.

The journal is published by the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists.

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