Exploring Expressive Communication Skills in a Cross-Sectional Sample of Individuals With a Dual Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Down Syndrome

Am J Intellect Dev Disabil. 2021 Mar 1;126(2):97-113. doi: 10.1352/1944-7558-126.2.97.


Individuals with a comorbid diagnosis of Down syndrome (DS) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have been found to exhibit greater deficits in expressive communication than individuals with DS only. We hypothesized that individuals with a comorbid diagnosis (n = 430) would have significantly lower Communication Matrix scores and specifically social communication scores than individuals with DS alone (n = 4,352). In a sample of 4,782 individuals with DS, scores for individuals with a comorbid diagnosis were on average 18.01 points and 7.26 points lower for total score and social score respectively as compared to individuals with DS. Comorbid diagnosis accounted for 10.5% of the variance in communication scores. Between-group differences in referential gestures and symbolic communication behaviors were also observed.

Keywords: Down syndrome; autism spectrum disorder; communication; intellectual disability; language.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / epidemiology
  • Communication
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
  • Down Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Humans