Narrative Content as Described by Individuals With Down Syndrome and Typically Developing Children Narratives of the wordless picture story, Frog, Where Are You?, by 33 individuals with Down syndrome and typically developing children (33 matched for mental age, 33 for syntax comprehension, 33 for mean length of utterance) were analyzed for expression of plot line, story theme, and the protagonists' misadventures in the ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 2002
Narrative Content as Described by Individuals With Down Syndrome and Typically Developing Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sally Miles
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Robin S. Chapman
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Contact author: Sally Miles, Waisman Center, 1500 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705. E-mail: miles@waisman.wisc.edu
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 2002
Narrative Content as Described by Individuals With Down Syndrome and Typically Developing Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2002, Vol. 45, 175-189. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2002/013)
History: Received February 19, 2001 , Accepted November 21, 2001
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2002, Vol. 45, 175-189. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2002/013)
History: Received February 19, 2001; Accepted November 21, 2001
Web of Science® Times Cited: 36

Narratives of the wordless picture story, Frog, Where Are You?, by 33 individuals with Down syndrome and typically developing children (33 matched for mental age, 33 for syntax comprehension, 33 for mean length of utterance) were analyzed for expression of plot line, story theme, and the protagonists' misadventures in the story. Despite their restricted expressive syntax and vocabulary, the group with Down syndrome expressed more plot line and thematic content and more of one of the protagonists' misadventures than the MLU controls; they most resembled the syntax comprehension control participants. We conclude that the group with Down syndrome had a conceptual understanding of the picture story similar to that of the TACL-R group and a strategy for expressing that understanding despite expressive lexical and syntactic limitations; this resulted in the expression of more narrative content than formal measures of expressive language would predict. We propose that the higher syntactic comprehension skills of the group with Down syndrome, combined with their experience with story content (listening to stories), may have contributed to their developing higher-level story schemas than would be expected given their MLUs.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by NIH R01 HD23353 to Robin S. Chapman, co-funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Down Syndrome Society. We thank the participants and parents. We also thank Dr. Mina Johnson-Glenberg for her helpful statistical consultations.
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