Reading skills and phonological awareness acquisition in Down syndrome

L. Verucci, D. Menghini, S. Vicari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although reading abilities play a fundamental role in the acquisition of personal autonomy, up until now studies investigating these abilities in Down syndrome (DS) are aimed at defining educational or rehability acquisition. However, studies describing the relationship between reading and phonological awareness in individuals with DS by comparing them to typically developing children often report contradictory results. The aim of this study is to explore reading and phonological awareness skills in a group of participants with DS. Methods: We administered reading and phonological processing ability tests to 17 DS individuals and to 17 reading-age-matched typically developing children. Results: Concerning reading abilities, participants with DS were impaired on non-word reading and on interpreting accuracy of non-homographic homophones. Their passage comprehension was also limited. Comparable ability was reported in the two groups on irregular word reading and passage reading tasks. Regarding phonological awareness ability, individuals with DS showed lower performances on several tasks, such as rhyming, deletion and syllable segmentation. Conclusions: People with DS show particular failure on non-word reading, a task where correct decoding is only partially influenced by lexical access or semantic context. Correct non-word reading mainly requires the use of the grapheme-phoneme conversion process. This process is based on the efficiency of phonological awareness abilities, which are partly impaired in people with DS. The rehabilitative implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-491
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006


  • Cognition
  • Down syndrome
  • Intellectual disability
  • Phonological awareness
  • Reading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Rehabilitation
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Education
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Reading skills and phonological awareness acquisition in Down syndrome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this