Research has found that many children andadolescents with Down syndrome acquire somelevel of reading ability. Studies to date havedocumented that cognition, language, andphonological awareness contribute tovariability observed in performance onconventional literacy measures for thispopulation, although the extent of relativecontributions varies among studies. Less isknown about the relationship of early literacyskills to conventional reading, or howrelationships among variables that supportliteracy acquisition are similar or differentfrom those observed in typically developingchildren. In this project, cognition,language, early literacy, phonologicalawareness and reading skills were examined in agroup of children and adolescents with Downsyndrome (aged 5;06 to 17;03) and a group oftypically developing children (aged 3;06 to5;03) matched for nonverbal cognition. Resultsrevealed broad variability in performance onearly literacy and reading measures in personswith Down syndrome. Comparisons with mental age-matchedchildren indicated differences in the relativecontribution of language and cognition toreading ability, with language being a strongerpredictor in the group with Down syndrome.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (1998). Guidelines for audiological screening. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Panel on Audiologic Assessment.
Blachman, B.A. (1994). Early intervention and phonological awareness: A cautionary tale. In B. Blachman (ed.), Foundations of reading acquisition and dyslexia. Mahwah, New Jersey: Erlbaum.
Boudreau, D.M. & Chapman, R.S. (2000). Event representation and linguistic skill in narratives of children and adolescents with Down syndrome, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 43: 1146-1159.
Bradley, L. & Bryant, P. (1983). Categorizing sounds and learning to read: A causal connection. Nature 30: 419-421.
Byrne, B. & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1993). Evaluation of a program to teach phonemic awareness to young children: A 1-year follow-up. Journal of Educational Psychology 85: 104-111.
Byrne, A., Buckley, S., MacDonald, J. & Bird, G. (1995). Investigating the literacy, language, and memory skills of children with Down syndrome, Down's Syndrome: Research and Practice 3(2), 53-58.
Buckley, S. (1985). Attaining basic educational skills: Reading, writing, and number. In: D. Lane & B. Stratford (eds.), Current approaches to Down's syndrome. New York: Praeger.
Buckley, S. & Bird, G. (1993). Teaching children with Down's syndrome to read, Down's Syndrome: Research and Practice 1(1): 34-39.
Carr, J. (1995). Down's syndrome: Children growing up. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Carrow-Woolfolk, E. (1985). Test of auditory comprehension of language-revised. Allen, Texas: DLM Teaching Resources.
Catts, H.W. (1993). The relationship between speech and language impairments and reading disabilities, Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 36: 948-958.
Catts, H.W. & Kamhi, A.G. (1999). Language and reading disabilities: A developmental perspective. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Chall, J.S. (1983). Stages of reading development. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Chapman, R.S., Schwartz, S.E. & Kay-Raining Bird, E. (1991) Language skills of children and adolescents with Down syndrome, I: Comprehension, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 34: 1106-1120.
Chapman, R.S., Seung, H.K., Schwartz, S.E. & Kay-Raining Bird, E. (1998). Language skills of children and adolescents with Down syndrome, II: Production, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 41: 861-873.
Clay, M.M. (1979). The early detection of reading difficulties: A diagnostic survey, 2nd edn. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann.
Clay, M.M. (1972). Sand-the concepts about print test. Birkenhead, Auckland: Heinemann Education Books.
Conners, F.A. (1992). Reading instruction for students with moderate mental retardation: Review and analysis of research, American Journal on Mental Retardation 96(6): 577-597.
Cossu, G., Rossini, F. & Marshall, J.C. (1993). When reading is acquired by phoneme awareness is not: A study of literacy in Down's syndrome, Cognition 46: 129-138.
Cunningham, A. (1990). Explicit versus implicit instruction in phonemic awareness, Journal of Experimental Psychology 50: 429-444.
Cupples, L. & Iacono, T. (2000). Phonological awareness and oral reading skill in children with Down syndrome, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 43(3): 595-608.
Dunn, L.M. & Dunn, L.M. (1997). Peabody picture vocabulary test-III. Circle Pines, Minnesota: American Guidance Services.
Ehri, L. (1991). Development of the ability to read words. In: R. Barr, M. Kamil, P. Mosenthal & P. Pearson (eds.), Handbook of reading research (Volume II) (pp. 383-417). New York: Longman.
Ellis, N. & Large, B. (1988). The early stages of reading: A longitudinal study, Applied Cognitive Psychology 2: 47-76.
Evans, R. (1994). Phonological awareness in children with Down syndrome, Down's Syndrome: Research and Practice 2(3): 102-105.
Farrell, M. & Elkins, J. (1994). Literacy for all? The case of Down syndrome, Journal of Reading 38(4): 270-280.
Feagans, L. & Applebaum, M.I. (1986). Validation of language subtypes in learning disabled children, Journal of Educational Psychology 78(5): 358-364.
Fowler, A.E. (1990). The development of language structure in children with Down syndrome: Evidence for a specific syntactic delay. In: D. Cicchettie & M. Beeghly (eds.), Children with Down Syndrome: A developmental approach (pp. 302-328). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fowler, A.E., Doherty, B.J. & Boynton, L. (1995). The basis of reading skills in young adults with Down syndrome. In: L. Nadel & D. Rosenthal (eds.), Down syndrome: Living and learning in the community. New York: Wiley-Liss.
Frith, U. (1985). Beneath the surface of development dyslexia. In: K. Patterson, J. Marshall & M. Coltheart (eds.), Surface dyslexia: Neuropsychological and cognitive studies of phonological reading (pp. 301-330). Hove: Erlbaum.
Gillam, R.B. & Johnston, J.R. (1985). Development of print awareness in language-disordered preschoolers, Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 28: 521-526.
Gillon, G. & Dodd, B. (1995). The effects of training phonological, semantic, and syntactic processing skills in spoken language on reading ability, Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools 26: 59-68.
Goodglass, H. & Kaplan, E. (1983). The assessment of aphasia and related disorders, 2nd edn. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger.
Hedrick, N.B., Katims, D.S. & Carr, N.J. (1999). Implementing a multimethod multilevel literacy program for students with mental retardation, Focus on Autism and Developmental Disabilities 14(4): 231-239.
Hiebert, E.F. (1980). The relationship of logical reasoning ability, oral language comprehension, and home experiences to preschool children's print awareness, Journal of Reading Behavior 12(4): 313-324.
Hollingshead, A.B. (1975). Four factor index of social status. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University.
Jarrold, C. & Baddeley, A.D. (1997). Short-term memory for verbal and visuospatial information in Down's syndrome, Cognitive Neuropsychiatry 2: 101-122.
Jarrold, C., Baddeley, A.D. & Hewes, A.K. (2000). Verbal short-term memory deficits in Down syndrome: A consequence of problems in rehearsal?, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 40: 233-244.
Kamhi, A.G. (1999). The path to proficient word recognition, American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association Language Learning and Education Special Interest Division 6: 4-7.
Kay-Raining Bird, E., Cleave, P.L. & McConnell. (2000). Reading and phonological awareness in children with Down syndrome: A longitudinal study, American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 9: 319-330.
Laws, G. (1998). The use of nonword repetition as a test of phonological memory in children with Down syndrome, Journal of Child Psychology, Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines 39, 1119-1130.
Lyon, G.R. (1999). Reading development, reading disorders, and reading instruction: Research-based findings, American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association Language Learning and Education Special Interest Division 6: 8-16.
Maclean, M., Bryant, P. & Bradley, L. (1987). Rhymes, nursery rhymes, and reading in early childhood, Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 33: 255-281.
Marcell, M.M. & Weeks, S.L. (1988). Short-term memory difficulties and Down's Syndrome, Journal of Mental Deficiency Research 32: 153-162.
Mackenzie, S. & Hulme, C. (1987). Memory span development in Down's syndrome, severely subnormal and normal subjects, Cognitive Neuropsychology 4: 303-310.
Maria, K. (1990). Reading comprehension instruction: Issues and strategies. Timonium, Maryland: York Press.
Mayer, M. (1973). One frog too many. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.
Miller, J.F. & Chapman, R.S. (1995). Systematic analysis of language transcripts (SALT). Madison, Wisconsin: Language Analysis Laboratory, Waisman Center.
Miller, J.F., Leddy, M. & Leavitt, L.A. (1999). A view toward the future. In: J.F. Miller, M. Leddy & L. A. Leavitt (eds.), Improving the communication of people with Down syndrome (pp. 241-262). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.
Morais, J., Cary, L., Alegria, J. & Bertelson, P. (1979). Does awareness of speech as a sequence of phones arise spontaneously?, Cognition 7: 323-331.
Naslund, J.C. (1990). The interrelationships among preschool predictors of reading acquisition for German children, Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 2: 327-360.
Oelwein, P.L. (1995). Teaching reading to children with Down syndrome. Bethesda, Maryland: Woodbine House.
Paul, R., Murray, C., Clancy, K. & Andrews, D. (1997). Reading and metaphonological outcomes in late talkers, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 40: 1037-1047.
Roizen, N.J., Wolters, C., Nicol, T. & Blondis, T.A. (1993). Hearing loss in children with Down syndrome, Journal of Pediatrics 123: 9012.
Roth, F.P., Speece, D.B. & Cooper, D.H. (1997). Longitudinal examination of the relationship of oral language and early reading development. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Boston.
Samuels, S.J. (1994). Word recognition. In: R.B. Ruddell, M.R. Ruddell & H. Singer (eds.), Theoretical models and processes of reading (pp. 359-380). Newark, Delaware: IRA.
Scanlon, D.M. & Vellutino, F.R. (1996). Prerequisite skills, early instruction, and success in first-grade reading: Selected results from a longitudinal study, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews 2: 54-63.
Scarborough, H.S. (1998). Early identification of children at risk for reading disabilities. In: B.K. Shapiro, P.J. Accardo & A.J. Capute (eds.), Specific reading disability. Timonium, Maryland: York Press.
Scarborough, H.S. & Dobrich, W. (1994). On the efficacy of reading to preschoolers, Developmental Review 14: 245-302.
Shepperdson, B. (1994). Attainments in reading and number of teenagers and young adults with Down syndrome, Down's Syndrome: Research and Practice 2(3): 97-101.
Sheridan, M.D. (1962). Vision tests for young children, normal and handicapped, Spastics Quarterly 11: 25-33.
Simon, E.W., Rappaport, D.A. & Agriesti, M. (1995). Memory performance in adults with Down syndrome, Australia & New Zealand Journal of Developmental Disabilities 20 (2): 113-125.
Sloper, P., Cunningham, C., Turner, S. & Knussen, C. (1990). Factors related to the academic attainments of children with Down's syndrome, British Journal of Educational Psychology 60: 284-298.
Snow, C.E., Tabors, P.O., Nicholson, P.A. & Kurland, B.F. (1995). SHELL: Oral language and early literacy skills in kindergarten and first grade children, Journal of Research in Childhood Education 10: 37-48.
Stanovich, K.E., Cunningham, A.E. & Feeman, D.J. (1984). Intelligence, cognitive skills, and early reading progress, Reading Research Quarterly 19: 278-303.
Stein, N. & Glenn, C. (1979). An analysis of story comprehension in elementary school children. In: R. Freedle (ed.), New directions in discourse processing, Vol. II (pp. 53-120). Norwood, New Jersey: Albex.
Sulzby, E. (1991). The development of the young child and the emergence of literacy. In: J. Flood, J.M. Jensen & J.R. Squires (eds.), Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts. New York: MacMillan.
Swank, L.K. & Catts, H.W. (1994). Phonological awareness and written word decoding. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools 25: 9-14.
Thorndike, R.L., Hagen, E.P., Sattler, J.M. (1986). Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, 4th edn. Chicago: The Riverside Publishing Co.
Warrick, N. & Rubin, H. (1992). Phonological awareness: Normally developing and language disordered children, Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology 1: 11-20.
Wimmer, H., Landerl, K., Linortner, R. & Hummer, P. (1991). The relationship of phonemic awareness to reading acquisition: More consequence than precondition but still important, Cognition 41: 219-249.
Woodcock, R.W. (1998). Woodcock reading mastery tests-revised. Circle Pines, Minnesota: American Guidance Services.
Yopp, H.K. (1988). The validity and reliability of phonemic awareness tests, Reading Research Quarterly 23: 159-117.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Boudreau, D. Literacy skills in children and adolescents with Down syndrome. Reading and Writing 15, 497–525 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1016389317827
- Down syndrome
- Early literacy
- Phonological awareness