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Motor speech skills in children with Down syndrome: A descriptive study.

PURPOSE: Motor speech characteristics of children with Down syndrome (DS) have historically been viewed as either Childhood Dysarthria (CD) or, more infrequently, as Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). The objective of this study was to investigate motor speech deficits in a systematic manner, considering characteristics from both CAS and CD.

METHOD: Motor speech assessments were carried out on seven 3;4-8;11-year old children with DS in comparison with younger, typically-developing children using a Language-Neutral Assessment of Motor Speech for young children (LAMS). Additionally, the motor speech and non-speech oral motor skills of all participants were analysed qualitatively using an investigator checklist of characteristics of CAS, CD and Motor Speech Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (MSD-NOS).

RESULT: Results indicated that the children with DS exhibited symptoms of CAS, CD and MSD-NOS, with variability within the group and overlapping symptoms of the disorder types. This finding is different from previous assumptions that children with DS have either CD or CAS.

CONCLUSION: The motor speech disorder accompanying DS is complex. The data provide some preliminary descriptions of motor speech disorders in this population and some tools that clinicians would find useful when assessing motor speech skills of young children with DS.

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