Narrative as a Social Engagement Tool: The Excessive Use of Evaluation in Narratives from Children with Williams Syndrome
Williams syndrome is a rare genetic disorder characterized by a unique physiological and behavioral profile, involving excessive sociability and relatively spared linguistic abilities in spite of mild to moderate mental retardation. The present study examines the narrative development of children with Williams syndrome and, for the first time, compares their performance to typically developing chronological-age matched children to examine the development of both structural linguistic abilities as well as the use of evaluation to elaborate and enrich narrative. Thirty children with Williams syndrome (5- through 10-years-old) and 30 typically developing age- and gender-matched comparison children were asked to tell a story from a wordless picture book. Results indicated that as a group, children with Williams syndrome committed significantly more morphological errors and used less complex syntax than comparison children, not surprising considering their language delay and impaired cognitive abilities. Significantly, children with Williams syndrome greatly exceeded comparison children in their elaboration and use of evaluative devices and showed particular preference for types of evaluation which serve as social engagement devices, reflecting their profile of excessive sociability. (Williams syndrome, Narrative, Evaluation)
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