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The association between expressive language skills and adaptive behavior in individuals with Down syndrome

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The primary goal of this study was to determine whether expressive language skills contribute to adaptive behavior (e.g., socialization and daily living skills) in children, adolescents, and young adults with Down syndrome (DS) whilst controlling for age and nonverbal cognitive ability. Expressive language was assessed using the psychometrically validated Expressive Language Sampling (ELS) conversation and narration procedures. The language produced was transcribed and analyzed to yield measures of expressive vocabulary, syntax, and intelligibility. Socialization and daily living skills of participants with DS were measured with the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, 2nd edition (VABS-2) parent/caregiver rating form. Our results show that the three ELS measures were significantly correlated with multiple measures from the VABS-2 when controlling for age. Several correlations remained significant even when nonverbal cognitive ability was included as a control variable. Our results suggest that expressive language skills contribute to adaptive behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults with DS regardless of age and some of these associations are not explained solely by overall cognitive delays. Further studies including longitudinal data are needed to extend our results.

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