Characteristics of Speech-Language Disorders
Difficulties in speech and language development are common to boys with fragile X syndrome. In fact, delays in speaking may be the first sign to parents that something might be wrong in their child's development. In girls, many verbal skills may be strengths, but weaknesses may occur in some conversational abilities.
Speech and language development is affected by the physical, cognitive, and sensory-motor characteristics of each child. Because of the wide variation in the population of boys with fragile X, generalized statements about the speech and language of all persons with fragile X cannot be made. Yet, there is remarkable similarity in the patterns of speech and language strengths and weaknesses among boys with fragile X. Most boys with fragile X do learn to speak, although some younger children may require augmentative communication devices (pictures, sign language, computerized boards, etc.) to help them make the transition to oral speech. Physical problems such as ear infections, sensory motor problems with oral motor weaknesses, lowered cognitive abilities, and attention and behavior difficulties in social interactions all may combine to affect speech and language.
For girls, many areas of speech and language may be strengths. Girls' verbal skills are generally good, with no particular disorders in speech (articulation), vocabulary (semantics), or grammar (syntax). Language disorders that may affect girls with fragile X syndrome are usually in the area of conversational skills (pragmatics).
Reprinted with the permission of the National Fragile X Foundation. © 1998-2007 NFXF.
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