Effects of sampling context on spontaneous expressive Language in males with fragile X syndrome or Down syndrome

Sara T. Kover, Andrea McDuffie, Leonard J Abbeduto, W. Ted Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Purpose: In this study, the authors examined the impact of sampling context on multiple aspects of expressive language in male participants with fragile X syndrome in comparison to male participants with Down syndrome or typical development. Method: Participants with fragile X syndrome (n = 27), ages 10-17 years, were matched groupwise on nonverbal mental age to adolescents with Down syndrome (n = 15) and typically developing 3 to 6-year-olds (n = 15). Language sampling contexts were an interview-style conversation and narration of a wordless book, with scripted examiner behavior. Language was assessed in terms of amount of talk, mean length of communication unit (MLCU), lexical diversity, fluency, and intelligibility. Results: Participants with fragile X syndrome had lower MLCU and lexical diversity than did participants with typical development. Participants with Down syndrome produced yet lower MLCU. A differential effect of context among those with fragile X syndrome, Down syndrome, and typical development emerged for the number of attempts per minute, MLCU, and fluency. For participants with fragile X syndrome, autism symptom severity related to the number of utterances produced in conversation. Aspects of examiner behavior related to participant performance. Conclusion: Sampling context characteristics should be considered when assessing expressive language in individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1022-1038
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012


  • Conversation
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Language sampling
  • Mean length of utterance (MLU)
  • Narrative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Medicine(all)


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