Some children with Down syndrome may experience difficulties in recognizing facial emotions, particularly fear, but it is not clear why, nor how such skills can best be facilitated. Using a photo-matching task, emotion recognition was tested in children with Down syndrome, children with nonspecific intellectual disability and cognitively matched, typically developing children (all groups N = 21) under four conditions: veridical vs. exaggerated emotions and emotion-labelling vs. generic task instructions. In all groups, exaggerating emotions facilitated recognition accuracy and speed, with emotion labelling facilitating recognition accuracy. Overall accuracy and speed did not differ in the children with Down syndrome, although recognition of fear was poorer than in the typically developing children and unrelated to emotion label use. Implications for interventions are considered.

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