Production of grammatical and lexical verbs in narratives from 29 individuals with Down syndrome and 29 typically developing control subjects matched on linguistic level (Brown's Stages 3, 4, and 5) was examined. We addressed recent theories proposing that verbs are central to syntactic development (Tomasello & Merriman, 1995). Consistent with predictions from the child talk model (Chapman et al., 19921, the individuals with Downsyndrome produced fewer lexical or grammatical verbs per utterance compared to the control group but produced a greater diversity of lexical verbs. The findings suggest that the well-documented syntactic deficits evidenced by individuals with Down syndrome may reflect difficulty in accessing verbs when constructing utterances. This difficulty may stem from deficits in auditory short-term memory.

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