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.
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: Accepted 14 Jan 2008 , Received 01 Jul 2007
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research August 2008, Vol.51, 967-982. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/071)
History: Accepted 14 Jan 2008 , Received 01 Jul 2007

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.

Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access

Related Articles

Using Developmental Trajectories to Understand Developmental Disorders
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research April 2009, Vol.52, 336-358. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0144)
Total and Conceptual Vocabulary in Spanish–English Bilinguals From 22 to 30 Months: Implications for Assessment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research October 2013, Vol.56, 1637-1649. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/11-0044)
Cross-Linguistic and Cross-Cultural Effects on Verbal Working Memory and Vocabulary: Testing Language-Minority Children With an Immigrant Background
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research April 2013, Vol.56, 630-642. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/12-0079)
Finiteness Marking in Boys With Fragile X Syndrome
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research December 2012, Vol.55, 1704-1715. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/10-0106)
Statistical Learning in Emerging Lexicons: The Case of Danish
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research October 2012, Vol.55, 1265-1273. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/10-0291)