Vocabulary Abilities of Children With Williams Syndrome: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Relation to Visuospatial Construction Ability Purpose: This project was designed to identify relative strengths and weaknesses in vocabulary ability for children with Williams syndrome (WS) and to demonstrate the importance of stringent matching criteria for cross-group comparisons.Method: Children with WS and typically developing (TD) children completed standardized assessments of intellectual and language ability. ... Article/Report
Article/Report  |   August 2008
Vocabulary Abilities of Children With Williams Syndrome: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Relation to Visuospatial Construction Ability
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Carolyn B. Mervis
    University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
  • Angela E. John
    University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
  • Contact author: Carolyn B. Mervis, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, 317 Life Sciences Building, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292. E-mail: cbmervis@louisville.edu.
  • © 2008 American Speech-Language-Hearing AssociationAmerican Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Language Disorders / Social Communication & Pragmatics Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language
Article/Report   |   August 2008
Vocabulary Abilities of Children With Williams Syndrome: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Relation to Visuospatial Construction Ability
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2008, Vol. 51, 967-982. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/071)
History: Received July 1, 2007 , Accepted January 14, 2008
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2008, Vol. 51, 967-982. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/071)
History: Received July 1, 2007; Accepted January 14, 2008
Web of Science® Times Cited: 17

Purpose: This project was designed to identify relative strengths and weaknesses in vocabulary ability for children with Williams syndrome (WS) and to demonstrate the importance of stringent matching criteria for cross-group comparisons.

Method: Children with WS and typically developing (TD) children completed standardized assessments of intellectual and language ability. Children with WS also completed a visuospatial construction ability assessment.

Results: Study 1: Concrete and relational vocabulary standard scores were significantly lower for 5- to 7-year-olds with WS than for TD children. Children with WS earned significantly higher standard scores for concrete than for relational vocabulary. When groups were stringently matched for relational vocabulary size, children with WS did not evidence a specific weakness in spatial vocabulary. Study 2: Standard scores for relational vocabulary were similar to those for visuospatial construction ability for 5- to 7-year-olds with WS. Study 3: Nine- to 11-year-olds with WS demonstrated very limited relational vocabulary ability; relational vocabulary ability at 5–7 years was highly correlated with later relational language ability.

Conclusions: Concrete vocabulary is a relative strength for children with WS; relational vocabulary ability is very limited and is at about the level of visuospatial construction ability. Accurate determination of group comparison results depends on stringent group matching.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant R37 HD29957 and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Grant R01 NS35102. We thank the children and their families for their enthusiastic participation in these studies. We also thank the members of our laboratory for conducting some of the assessments, Joanie Robertson for database management, and Doris Kistler for statistical consultation.
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