Literacy & Down Syndrome Abstracts

Reading and Writing 14 (3/4): 361-75 (2001 Jun)

Can individuals with Down syndrome acquire alphabetic literacy skills in the absence of phoneme awareness?

Cláudia Cardoso-Martins, Uta Frith
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil

Two studies investigating the relationship between phoneme awareness and word reading ability in Down syndrome (DS) are reported. The first study included 33 Brazilian individuals with DS (mean age = 23 years). They all had begun to read and all showed clear signs of phonological recoding skills. Thirty-three normal children (mean age = 7 years), matched with the individuals with DS for reading ability, participated as controls. The second study included individuals with DS with a wider range of reading ability: a group of 46 readers (mean age = 22 years) and a group of 47 nonreaders (mean age = 18 years). The results question Cossu, Rossini, and Marshall's (1993a) claim that phoneme awareness is not related to alphabetic reading acquisition in DS. Although the individuals with DS who participated in the first study performed rather poorly on a task that presupposes the ability to explicitly manipulate phonological representations, they performed quite well on a task assessing the ability to detect phonemic similarities in words. We suggest that it was this ability that enabled them to acquire phonological recoding skills as well as they did, despite their cognitive limitations. The results of the second study were consistent with this interpretation. The ability to detect phonemic similarities in words significantly differentiated between the readers and the nonreaders, even after we controlled for variations in letter knowledge, intelligence, and chronological age.
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 9 (4): 319-30 (2000 Nov)

Reading and Phonological Awareness in Children with Down Syndrome: A Longitudinal Study

Elizabeth Kay-Raining Bird, Patricia L. Cleave, and Lyndsey McConnell

Many children with Down syndrome (DS) are capable of developing some reading and writing abilities. The purpose of this study was to further the knowledge of literacy learning and factors that influence that learning in children with DS. Twelve elementary school children with DS were followed over a 4.5-year period. All the children attended regular education classrooms with personal aides and resource rooms as support. Measures of the children's reading, language, cognitive, and phonological awareness abilities were collected three times. Analyses demonstrated that some reading ability was present in all but one of the children by the end of the study. Phonological awareness and word attack skills did not keep pace with word recognition abilities in these children. When age and mental age (i.e., the mean of the age-equivalent scores from the Pattern Analysis and Bead Memory subtests of the Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale, 4th edition) were partialled out, word attack skill was uniquely predicted by measures of phoneme segmentation and auditory memory as well. Clinical implications of the findings are discussed.
Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research 43: 595-608 (2000)

Phonological awareness and oral reading skill in children with Down syndrome

Cupples, L., & Iacono, T.

The existence of a necessary association between phonological awareness (PA) and oral reading development has been questioned using evidence from children with Down syndrome. In this study, 22 children with Down syndrome (between the ages of 6;7 and 10;3) initially completed tests of receptive language, cognitive function, oral reading, and PA. Reading and PA were reassessed approximately 9 months later. Better oral reading was associated with superior phoneme segmentation skills on reassessment. Furthermore, there was some evidence that early segmentation ability predicted later nonword reading, but not the reverse. The results indicate an association between PA and early oral reading ability in children with Down syndrome and are interpreted within a theoretical view of reading development in which PA plays a central role.
Down Syndrome Research and Practice 3 (2): 53-8 (1995)

Investigating the literacy, language and memory skills of children with Down syndrome

Byrne, Angela; Buckley, Sue; MacDonald, John; Bird, Gillian
Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth and The Down Syndrome Educational Trust

This paper presents the first phase of a longitudinal study following 24 children with Down syndrome who are receiving their education in mainstream primary schools. The literacy, numeracy, language and memory skills of the children with Down syndrome were compared to 2 groups of children selected from their classmates. The comparison groups were a group of typically developing children who were average readers in the classes and a group of children who were matched to the children with Down syndrome for reading age. The baseline data revealed that the children with Down syndrome had uneven cognitive profiles with relatively advanced reading skills compared to their other cognitive skills. The group of ordinary children who were matched to the children with Down syndrome on reading ability, attained significantly higher scores than the children with Down syndrome on all assessments other than reading. However, the reading matched group who were generally of below average reading ability for their age, were also significantly delayed relative to the average readers on measures of language, number and memory. As a group the average readers were average or above average on all measures. A cross-sectional analysis which divided the children with Down syndrome into 3 groups according to age and school year group indicates steady progress in all skills as the children move through primary school.
Down Syndrome Research and Practice 1 (1): 34-39 (1993 Feb)

Teaching Children with Down Syndrome to Read

Buckley, Sue; Bird, Gillian
Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth and The Down Syndrome Educational Trust

This article describes the development of our interest and expertise in the teaching of reading to children with Down syndrome since 1980 and the insights that we have gained into the children's language learning difficulties while teaching them to read. The readers' attention is drawn to the links between spoken language skills and reading skills and the differences between the strategies an ordinary five year old can use when learning to read and those available to a child or teenager with Down syndrome. The methods of introducing and developing reading skills are outlined, emphasising the principles on which they are based. The same methods are advocated whatever the age of the child at the outset. The benefits of even limited reading instruction for developing good spoken language are emphasised.
Exceptional Children 31 (6): 269-275 (1965)

Verbal Development in a mongoloid

Seagoe, May V
U. California, Los Angeles

A mongoloid boy, IQ about 60, was taught to read and write using the kinesthetic method. He kept a diary from age 11 to age 45. Test data at age 45, various statistical word-counts and reading indices, and a Q sort of diary entries randomly selected from age 13 to 41 showed a reading vocabulary level maintained at or above the 7th grade level, and a writing level approximately comparable. Analysis using the formula developed by Parks of a 5000 word sample showed a style similar to the spoken language of a bright 5-yr old, yet with high redundancy with words of low rank and selectivity for words of high rank that statistically differentiated the 2.