Referential communication abilities in children with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome

Ellen Van Den Heuvel, Christina ReuterskiöLd, Cynthia Solot, Eric Manders, Ann Swillen, Inge Zink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study describes the performance on a perspective- and role-taking task in 27 children, ages 6–13 years, with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS). A cross-cultural design comparing Dutch- and English-speaking children with 22q11.2DS explored the possibility of cultural differences. Method: Chronologically age-matched and younger typically developing (TD) children matched for receptive vocabulary served as control groups to identify challenges in referential communication. Results: The utterances of children with 22q11.2DS were characterised as short and simple in lexical and grammatical terms. However, from a language use perspective, their utterances were verbose, ambiguous and irrelevant given the pictured scenes. They tended to elaborate on visual details and conveyed off-topic, extraneous information when participating in a barrier-game procedure. Both types of aberrant utterances forced a listener to consistently infer the intended message. Moreover, children with 22q11.2DS demonstrated difficulty selecting correct speech acts in accordance with contextual cues during a role-taking task. Conclusion: Both English- and Dutch-speaking children with 22q11.2DS showed impoverished information transfer and an increased number of elaborations, suggesting a cross-cultural syndrome-specific feature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-502
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2017


  • 22q11.2 deletion syndrome
  • Referential communication
  • cross-cultural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • LPN and LVN
  • Speech and Hearing


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