Language Characteristics of Individuals With Down Syndrome

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On average, language and communication characteristics of individuals with Down syndrome (the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability) follow a consistent profile. Despite considerable individual variability, receptive language is typically stronger than expressive language, with particular challenges in phonology and syntax. We review the literature on language and literacy skills of individuals with Down syndrome, with emphasis on the areas of phonology, vocabulary, syntax, and pragmatics. We begin by describing the hearing, oral-motor, cognitive, social, and prelinguistic and early nonverbal communication characteristics of individuals with Down syndrome. We conclude with a discussion of clinical implications and research directions.

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