Language development in down syndrome: From the prelinguistic period to the acquisition of literacy

Leonard J Abbeduto, Steven F. Warren, Frances A. Conners

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

224 Scopus citations


Down syndrome (DS) is associated with abnormalities in multiple organ systems and a characteristic phenotype that includes numerous behavioral features. Language, however, is among the most impaired domains of functioning in DS and, perhaps, also the greatest barrier to independent meaningful inclusion in the community. In this article, we review what is known about the extent, nature, and correlates of the language and related problems of individuals with Down syndrome. In doing so, we focus largely on the syndrome-specific features of the language phenotype, although we also consider within-syndrome variation. The review focuses on the prelinguistic foundations of language and the major components of language (i.e., vocabulary, syntax, and pragmatics). We also consider two topics in the treatment and education of individuals with DS: prelinguistic communication intervention and the acquisition of literacy skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-261
Number of pages15
JournalMental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication
  • Down syndrome
  • Intervention
  • Language
  • Mental retardation
  • Reading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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