Pragmatic language impairment and social deficits in Williams syndrome: a comparison with Down's syndrome and specific language impairment
Article first published online: 31 DEC 2010
2004 Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists
International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders
Volume 39, Issue 1, pages 45–64, January-March 2004
How to Cite
Laws, G. and Bishop, D. V. M. (2004), Pragmatic language impairment and social deficits in Williams syndrome: a comparison with Down's syndrome and specific language impairment. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 39: 45–64. doi: 10.1080/13682820310001615797
- Issue published online: 31 DEC 2010
- Article first published online: 31 DEC 2010
- Received 9 May 2003; accepted 12 July 2003
- Down's syndrome;
- specific language impairment;
- Williams syndrome
Background: The social communication strength of individuals with Williams syndrome described by some researchers contrasts with the picture of social difficulties painted by others.
Aims: To study the pragmatic aspects of language, social relationships and unusual interests in a group of children and adults with Williams syndrome, and to compare them with a group of children and adults with Down's syndrome, children with specific language impairment, and a group of typically developing children.
Methods & Procedures: Parents or teachers completed the Children's Communication Checklist or a modified version of it with wording appropriate for adults. Study groups consisted of 19 children and young adults with Williams syndrome, 24 with Down's syndrome, 17 children with specific language impairment and 32 typically developing children.
Outcomes & Results: Checklist ratings for the group with Williams syndrome indicated significant levels of pragmatic language impairment, and difficulties with social relationships. Together with evidence of unusual or restricted interests, the results suggested deficits across all three domains covered by the checklist.
Conclusions: Despite earlier reports that emphasize a strong social interest and empathy, this study suggests that individuals with Williams syndrome have pragmatic language impairments, poor social relationships and restricted interests. Far from representing the polar opposite of autism, as suggested by some researchers, Williams syndrome would seem to share many of the characteristics of autistic disorder.