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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Minerva Pediatrica 2014 February;66(1):7-16

language: English

Referential communication skills in children with Down Syndrome

Maltese A., Pepi A., Scifo L., Roccella M.

Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università di Palermo, Palermo, Italy


Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate referential communication skills in children with Down Syndrome (DS). We studied the development of pragmatic language in relation to nonverbal skills by analyzing referential communication skills in children with DS, in both production and comprehension of referential messages: oriented and/or ambiguous, adequate (appropriate) and inadequate (inappropriate).
Methods: The study population was 24 children: 12 with DS (mean age, 7.8 years) and 12 with normal development (control group) (mean age, 7.4 years). In the first phase (F1), all 24 children were administered a test to evaluate their nonverbal skills, followed in a second phase (F2) by a test to specifically evaluate their referential communication skills.
Results: A strong relationship between nonverbal and referential communication skills was found, in which the nonverbal skills contributed to variations in referential performance, especially among the children with DS. Furthermore, the children with DS showed better performance in the “talking” than the “listener” condition. Within the listener condition, a significant correlation emerged between adequate and inadequate messages.
Conclusion: Referential communication skills are influenced by several verbal and nonverbal factors.

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