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Down Syndrome Research and Practice 6(2)

The relevance of a nonword repetition task to assess phonological short-term memory in individuals with Down syndrome

Annick Comblain

Phonological short-term memory capacity is generally measured with a word span task or a digit span task. Another way to measure it is to use a nonword repetition task. Gathercole and Adams (1993) claimed that this procedure can be used with children as young as two-years old. It seems that in normally developing children the quality of nonword repetition is influenced both by the length of nonwords and by the degree of wordlikeness. Can the phonological short-term memory of individuals with Down syndrome be assessed with a nonword repetition task? In order to answer this question, we decided to replicate Gathercole and collaborators' experiments (1991,1993) but with individuals with Down syndrome. The quality of nonword repetition in individuals with Down syndrome is, as in normally developing children, influenced both by the length of nonwords and by their degree of wordlikeness. Furthermore, our results seem to confirm the hypothesis which states that nonwords are temporarily stored in the phonological short-term memory system. As this system has a limited capacity, both normally developing children and people with Down syndrome recall more short nonwords than long nonwords. In conclusion, nonword repetition is a reliable task with which to assess phonological short-term memory in individuals with Down syndrome as well as in normally developing children.

Comblain, A. (1999) The relevance of a nonword repetition task to assess phonological short-term memory in individuals with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 6(2), 76-84.

Learning to Count: A Difficult Task?

Jill Porter

This article is concerned with the acquisition of counting skills in pupils with Down syndrome. Data from a larger survey of pupils with severe learning difficulties is explored to investigate the types of errors children make at the earliest stages of learning to count. The pattern of responding was consistent with the view that children with Down syndrome have particular difficulties in tasks utilising auditory sequential memory, in this case learning the number string. The practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Porter, J. (1999) Learning to Count: A Difficult Task?. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 6(2), 85-94.

Getting in and staying there: Children with Down syndrome in mainstream schools

Pat Cuckle

The proportion of children with Down syndrome in mainstream schools, compared to special schools, has been increasing over the last decade; this is due both to more children going into mainstream schools at five or six and to more children staying in mainstream schools for increasing lengths of time, not uncommonly throughout their school careers. There are, however, wide variations between Local Education Authorities, which is attributed mainly to differing implementation of inclusion policies. Data is drawn together from a number of sources (both previously published and unpublished) which describe some of the processes which take place in making initial placements in mainstream schools, maintaining those placements and transferring out of mainstream schools. Commitment of staff to meeting children's special needs rather than matters relating to the curriculum seem to be of paramount importance both at home and abroad in successful mainstream placements.

Cuckle, P. (1999) Getting in and staying there: Children with Down syndrome in mainstream schools. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 6(2), 95-99.

Down Syndrome and the Phonological Loop: The Evidence for, and Importance of, a Specific Verbal Short-Term Memory Deficit

Christopher Jarrold, Alan Baddeley, and Caroline Phillips

Individuals with Down syndrome are thought to perform poorly on tests of verbal short-term memory, such as measures of word span or digit span. This review critically examines the evidence for a specific deficit in verbal short-term memory in Down syndrome, and outlines a range of possible explanations for such a deficit. The potential implications of a verbal short-term memory impairment for broader aspects of development are outlined, in particular with respect to vocabulary development. Possible intervention strategies, which might improve verbal short-term memory performance in Down syndrome are also considered. However, we argue that further research is needed to fully clarify the nature of a verbal short-term memory deficit in Down syndrome, before the merits of these various intervention approaches can be properly evaluated.

Jarrold, C, Baddeley, A, and Phillips, C. (1999) Down Syndrome and the Phonological Loop: The Evidence for, and Importance of, a Specific Verbal Short-Term Memory Deficit. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 6(2), 61-75.

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