Objective and Method: This article describes the profiles of a cohort of 77 New Zealand children with Down syndrome (aged between 5 and 14 years) in areas of particular importance to reading development, namely phonological awareness, word level reading and letter knowledge. Assessment of reading accuracy and comprehension of connected text, as well as further phonological awareness knowledge, was measured in 25 of the more advanced readers in this cohort. Results: The findings showed the expected development with increasing age for letter knowledge, phoneme level awareness and reading tasks. Forty-two percent scored significantly above chance on a phoneme identity task, and most of the participants knew more letter names than letter sounds. Only 17% of the group scored above chance on a rhyme oddity task, and rhyme knowledge was not significantly correlated with age. The majority of the participants could read 1 or more words in isolation and 6.5% demonstrated word level reading at a 7- to 8-year level. Phoneme awareness and letter sound knowledge significantly contributed to word level reading performance. In-depth assessment for the more advanced readers suggested the participants had a comparative strength in reading accuracy compared to reading comprehension and found phonological awareness blending tasks easier than phonological segmentation tasks. Only 1 participant demonstrated strength on a rhyme generation task. Conclusion: Discussion focuses on the implications of better understanding the differing language profiles of children with Down syndrome for enhancement of their educational success.

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