Language is often one of the most impaired areas for a child with Intellectual Disability and may be the single most important characteristic of this disorder.

Speech and language delays vary from moderate to severe degrees.  Kids with ID ( Intellectual Disability) develop very little speech while some other children especially those with Fragile X Syndrome and even some Down Syndrome children show “Perseveration” which is excessive talking on a topic when it is appropriate or needless repetition. Some children with ID also exhibit “jargon” speech which is meaningless unintelligible speech, and also echolalia (repetition of a partner’s speech). Some children with Down Syndrome, are almost as skilled as there mental age matched peers in understanding new word meanings and in producing these words correctly thereafter.

The language characteristics are described in the table below.


Related with meaning of words

  • More concrete word meanings
  • Slow vocabulary growth
  • Limited use of categories ( semantic units)
  • Children with Down Syndrome are able to learn word meanings from exposure in context as well as mental age matched peers developing typically


Related with sentence structure

  • Same sequence of general sentence
    development as in children developing typically
  • Shorter, less complex sentences


Related with understanding of language

  • Poor receptive language skills, especially children with Down Syndrome, than mental age matched peers develop typically
  • Poor sentence recall than mental age matched peers


Related with social appropriateness of language and its usage

  • Gesture development similar to typically developing children
  • Delayed in making requests by gestures
  • Not dominant in making conversations


Related with speech sounds and phonetics

  • Same order of speech sound development as pre-schoolers developing typically
  1. Semantics – related with meaning of words
  2. Syntax – related with sentence structure
  3. Comprehension – related with understanding of language
  4. Pragmatics – related with social appropriateness of language and its usage
  5. Phonology – related with speech sounds and phonetics