Næss, Nygaard, Hofslundsengen & Yaruss (2021): The Association between Difficulties with Speech Fluency and Language Skills in a National Age Cohort of Children with Down Syndrome
I: Brain Sciences. Online first. Open Access.
Kari‐Anne B. Næss, Egil Nygaard, Hilde Hofslundsengen & J. Scott Yaruss
The present study (a) addressed difficulties in speech fluency in children with Down syndrome and typically developing children at a similar non-verbal level and (b) examined the association between difficulties with speech fluency and language skills in children with Down syndrome. Data from a cross-sectional parent survey that included questions about children’s difficulties with speech fluency, as well as clinical tests from a national age cohort of 43 six-year-olds with Down syndrome and 57 young typically developing children, were collected. Fisher’s exact test, Student’s t-test, linear regression, and density ellipse scatter plots were used for analysis. There was a significantly higher occurrence of parent-reported difficulties with speech fluency in the children with Down syndrome. Higher language scores were significantly associated with a lower degree of difficulties; this association was strongest for vocabulary and phonological skills. Although difficulties with speech fluency were not reported for all children with Down syndrome, a substantially higher occurrence of such difficulties was reported compared to that for typically developing children. The significant association between difficulties with speech fluency and the level of language functioning suggests that speech fluency and language skills should be taken into consideration when planning treatment for children with Down syndrome.