Written and Oral Narratives of Children and Adolescents With Down Syndrome Purpose This study describes written and spoken narrative skills of school-age individuals with Down syndrome (DS). Method Twenty-one students with DS (age 6;6 [years;months]–19;10) and 17 reading-matched, typically developing (TD) controls (age 4;9–10;9) were matched using Word Identification subtest raw scores (Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests—Revised; R. W. Woodcock, ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2008
Written and Oral Narratives of Children and Adolescents With Down Syndrome
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Elizabeth Kay-Raining Bird
    Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Patricia L. Cleave
    Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Denise White
    Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Heather Pike
    Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • April Helmkay
    Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Contact author: Elizabeth Kay-Raining Bird, School of Human Communication Disorders, Dalhousie University, 5599 Fenwick Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 1R2, Canada. E-mail: rainbird@dal.ca.
  • Denise White is now a speech-language pathologist in the Nova Scotia public schools. Heather Pike is now in private practice in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. April Helmkay is now at the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada.
    Denise White is now a speech-language pathologist in the Nova Scotia public schools. Heather Pike is now in private practice in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. April Helmkay is now at the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada.×
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / School-Based Settings / Normal Language Processing / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2008
Written and Oral Narratives of Children and Adolescents With Down Syndrome
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2008, Vol. 51, 436-450. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/032)
History: Received March 31, 2006 , Revised January 15, 2007 , Accepted August 24, 2007
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2008, Vol. 51, 436-450. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/032)
History: Received March 31, 2006; Revised January 15, 2007; Accepted August 24, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 27

Purpose This study describes written and spoken narrative skills of school-age individuals with Down syndrome (DS).

Method Twenty-one students with DS (age 6;6 [years;months]–19;10) and 17 reading-matched, typically developing (TD) controls (age 4;9–10;9) were matched using Word Identification subtest raw scores (Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests—Revised; R. W. Woodcock, 1987; age equivalents: 5;0–9;7 for both groups). Matching on reading resulted in significantly higher mental ages and vocabulary comprehension age-equivalent scores for the controls. Narratives were elicited in 3 modes (oral, handwritten, and word-processed) using single-episode picture sequences. Narratives were analyzed for length, linguistic complexity, narrative structure, spelling, punctuation, and handwriting legibility.

Results Analyses revealed significant group differences only for measures of narrative length (DS > TD) and handwriting legibility (TD > DS). Oral narratives were longer and more complex than written narratives for both groups. Regression analyses revealed that vocabulary comprehension was the best predictor of narrative skills for the group with DS; age was the best predictor of narrative skills for the TD group.

Conclusions These school-age students with DS exhibited many oral and written narrative abilities that were comparable with those of real-word-reading-matched controls. Several findings suggest a possible increased constraint of fine-motor skill in the DS group.

Acknowledgments
Portions of these data were presented at the annual conference of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development in Bern, Switzerland (July 1998). This research was supported by research grants to the first author from the Scottish Rite Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. We thank the participants and parents for their generous assistance.
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