International Medical Review on Down Syndrome
Research that focuses on the expressive–receptive language gap in individuals with Down syndrome has consistently found that receptive language skills are more advanced than expressive language skills. Although this research has been limited to children, the assumption has been made that the relationship between receptive and expressive language skills does not change over the lifespan. The current research focuses on the receptive–expressive language gap in adults with Down syndrome (DS). The first phase of the study used a survey to explore the perceived difficulty of receptive and expressive language tasks by adults with DS. Findings were that the adults perceive receptive language tasks (following instructions) to be more difficult than expressive language tasks (speaking to others at work). The second phase of the study was designed as a follow-up to the survey results to explore the receptive–expressive language gap in greater depth in ten adults with Down syndrome. Formal language testing, surveys and interviews were used. Formal testing indicated that the relationship between receptive and expressive language skills was more individualized in the adults. Survey and interview results indicated that participants perceived receptive skills to be more difficult than expressive skills in employment settings and daily living. Discussion considers reasons for the between subject variation and ramifications for IEP (Individualized Eduation Program) and transition planning. Conclusion is that the assumption cannot be made that the receptive–expressive language gap is the same at different ages and that there is a need to individually assess receptive and expressive language skills at all ages.