Semin Speech Lang 2021; 42(04): 318-329
DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-1730990
Review Article

Mental State Language Use in Children with Down Syndrome and the Role of Caregivers

Marie Moore Channell
1   Department of Speech and Hearing Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois
Rebekah Bosley
1   Department of Speech and Hearing Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois
› Author Affiliations


Children with Down syndrome (DS) have both strengths and difficulties in speech, language, and social communication. Mental state language—the ability to discuss others' perspectives such as their thoughts, feelings, and intentions—represents a foundational social communicative skill that is delayed in many children with DS, even into the school-age years. The purpose of this article is to review the evidence base on mental state language development in school-age children with DS, focusing in particular on assessment and intervention. We discuss assessment procedures that are both age appropriate and developmentally appropriate for this population. We also present preliminary data highlighting the role of caregivers in supporting mental state language development in school-age children with DS through shared storytelling. We propose that interventions aimed at supporting mental state language development in DS should include a focus on caregiver–child shared storybook reading, even in the school-age years. Therefore, we discuss key considerations for clinicians when teaching caregivers strategies for supporting mental state language and social communication in children with DS.


Financial: No relevant relationships exist for either author.

Nonfinancial: No relevant relationships exist for either author.

Publication History

Article published online:
26 July 2021

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