Language Skills and Problems
Researchers describe WS language as “remarkable, ” “surprisingly well preserved, ” “unusual and picturesque, ” “relatively spared, ” “irrelevant and perseverative, ” “developmentally delayed, ” “non-intact, ” “gifted, ” and “engaging” (Bellugi, Lichtenberger, Jones, Lai, & St. George, 2000; Bellugi et al., 1994; Karmiloff-Smith, Grant, Berthoud, Davies, Howlin, & Udwin, 1997; Karmiloff-Smith, Klima, Bellugi, Grant, & Baron-Cohen, 1995; Semel, 1988; Semel & Rosner, 1991b; Udwin & Yule, 1990).
Most individuals with WS (WSs) are verbally fluent, articulate, and extremely interested in conversing with others. Their speech is usually grammatically complex, generally correct, but with some exceptions (discussed later). They are noted for having an extensive vocabulary, impressive storytelling skills, and being able to use their language abilities for their own purposes.
Despite striking individual differences in language competence and variation across subareas in ability, language stands as an area of surprising strength for most WSs relative to their cognitive limitations in intelligence test scores, Piagetian tasks, and general information, as well as marked visual-spatial-motor deficits (Bellugi et al., 2000; Mervis & KleinTasman, 2000). Parents report that 67% of children with WS (WSc) (n = 64, 4–22 yrs) have “highly developed language abilities, ” and 98% report that their WSc “can talk” (Utah Survey, Semel & Rosner, 1991a, 1991b).2____________________