Language development in school-age girls with fragile X syndrome


Dr Audra Sterling, Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1500 Highland Ave., room 529A, Madison, WI 53705-2280, USA (e-mail:


Background  Girls with fragile X syndrome (FXS) have a wide range of cognitive and language abilities. The range of language outcomes experienced by girls with FXS, however, has been relatively unexplored. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine receptive and expressive language, with a focus on vocabulary and syntax, in a group of school-age girls with FXS.

Method  Twenty-one girls with FXS aged 7–15 years participated in the study. The girls completed a receptive vocabulary test, non-verbal IQ test and an expressive language sample.

Results  The mean IQ for this group of girls was at the cut-off for intellectual disability. Vocabulary was an area of strength relative to non-verbal cognition. Age and non-verbal IQ were significant predictors of vocabulary performance.

Conclusions  The data suggest that a substantial portion of the sample would qualify for speech and language services. This study highlights the need for continued research in the area of language and cognitive development in girls with the full mutation of fragile X.