Næss, Nygaard & Smith (2021): Occurrence of Reading Skills in a National Age Cohort of Norwegian Children with Down Syndrome: What Characterizes Those Who Develop Early Reading Skills?
I: Brain Sciences. Online first. Open Access.
Kari‐Anne B. Næss, Egil Nygaard og Elizabeth Smith
Children with Down syndrome are at risk of reading difficulties. Reading skills are crucial for social and academic development, and thus, understanding the nature of reading in this clinical group is important. This longitudinal study investigated the occurrence of reading skills in a Norwegian national age cohort of 43 children with Down syndrome from the beginning of first grade to third grade. Data were collected to determine which characteristics distinguished those who developed early reading skills from those who did not. The children′s decoding skills, phonological awareness, nonverbal mental ability, vocabulary, verbal short-term memory, letter knowledge and rapid automatized naming (RAN) performance were measured annually. The results showed that 18.6% of the children developed early decoding skills by third grade. Prior to onset, children who developed decoding skills had a significantly superior vocabulary and letter knowledge than non-readers after controlling for nonverbal mental abilities. These findings indicate that early specific training that focuses on vocabulary and knowledge of words and letters may be particularly effective in promoting reading onset in children with Down syndrome.