Abstract

This longitudinal study examined pragmatic language in boys and girls with Down syndrome (DS) at up to three time points, using parent report, standardized and direct assessments. We also explored relationships among theory of mind, executive function, nonverbal mental age, receptive and expressive vocabulary, grammatical complexity, and pragmatic competence. Controlling for cognitive and language abilities, children with DS demonstrated greater difficulty than younger typically developing controls on parent report and standardized assessments, but only girls with DS differed on direct assessments. Further, pragmatic skills of individuals with DS developed at a delayed rate relative to controls. Some sex-specific patterns of pragmatic impairments emerged. Theory of mind and executive function both correlated with pragmatic competence. Clinical and theoretical implications are discussed.

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