Conversational success in Williams syndrome: communication in the face of cognitive and linguistic limitations
Tarling, K., Perkins, M. R. and Stojanovik, V. (2006) Conversational success in Williams syndrome: communication in the face of cognitive and linguistic limitations. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 20 (7-8). pp. 583-590. ISSN 0269-9206
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/02699200500266547
Williams syndrome (WS) is characterized by apparent relative strengths in language, facial processing and social cognition but by profound impairment in spatial cognition, planning and problem solving. Following recent research which suggests that individuals with WS may be less linguistically able than was once thought, in this paper we begin to investigate why and how they may give the impression of linguistic proficiency despite poor standardized test results. This case study of Brendan, a 12-year-old boy with WS, who presents with a considerable lack of linguistic ability, suggests that impressions of linguistic competence may to some extent be the result of conversational strategies which enable him to compensate for various cognitive and linguistic deficits with a considerable degree of success. These conversational strengths are not predicted by his standardized language test results, and provide compelling support for the use of approaches such as Conversation Analysis in the assessment of individuals with communication impairments.