Language and cognition in two children with Williams syndrome

J Speech Hear Res. 1989 Sep;32(3):489-500. doi: 10.1044/jshr.3203.489.


In this study, aspects of language, single-gesture retrieval, combinatorial play, and visual-spatial cognition are reported in two children with Williams syndrome who were in the single-word stage of language acquisition. Williams syndrome children are of particular interest because, when older (10-15 years), they display an unusual profile of abilities that may include superior linguistic performance compared with other aspects of cognition. The two children in the present study are compared to a group of normal children in the single-word stage of language acquisition with a mean age of 14.8 months, a group of single-word stage children who are 6-18 months delayed, and a group of older normal children with a mean age of 23.5 months. Results are compatible with the unusual cognitive profile displayed by older Williams syndrome children. We discuss the possibility that this profile involves mechanisms that extend beyond the boundaries of language proper.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition*
  • Down Syndrome / psychology
  • Female
  • Gestures
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior
  • Infant
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology*
  • Language Development Disorders / psychology
  • Language*
  • Symbolism
  • Syndrome