Linguistic abilities in children with Williams-Beuren syndrome

Am J Med Genet. 1994 Sep 1;52(3):291-6. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.1320520308.


In recent studies children with Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS) have been characterized as having a distinct neuropsychological profile with verbal abilities being superior to visuo-spatial and motor skills. An unusual command of language, including excessive use of verbal stereotypes, social phrases, and clichés has been noticed. The aim of this study is to establish whether the quality and quantity of verbal behavior, and the articulation and tonal quality of the voices of children with WBS differ from other children with nonspecific developmental disabilities. A group of 25 children with WBS and a control group of 25 children matched for age (4-10 years), sex (12 girls; 13 boys), and non-verbal reasoning abilities (mean IQ = 79) were investigated. The Heidelberg Language Development Test and a picture story were administered. The mothers were asked to answer a questionnaire to assess the articulation and the vocal characteristics of their children. The results show that children with WB syndrome do not differ in most qualitative and quantitative tasks with regard to verbal competence. They produce significantly more correct plural-singular formations than the control children (t = 2.49, P < 0.01) on a primitive level of grammatical competence. In general, their articulation was reported to be more exact and clear (t = -2.73, P < 0.006). More mothers of children with WBS noticed a production of stereotypes, the use of social phrases, and clichés than did mothers of the control children (Chi square = -6.67 P < 0.005). Children with WBS were less likely to lisp as compared to the control children (Chi square = 2.08, P = 0.074).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Articulation Disorders / psychology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / psychology
  • Face / abnormalities*
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology
  • Language Development
  • Linguistics*
  • Male
  • Stereotyped Behavior
  • Syndrome
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Voice