Writing abilities in intellectual disabilities: A comparison between Down and Williams syndrome

Cristiana Varuzza, Paola De Rose, Stefano Vicari, Deny Menghini*

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Writing is a complex task that requires the integration of multiple cognitive, linguistic, and motor abilities. Until now, only a few studies investigated writing abilities in individuals with Intellectual Disability (ID). The aim of the present exploratory study was to provide knowledge on the organization of writing in two populations with ID, Down syndrome (DS) and Williams syndrome (WS), trying to disentangle different components of the process.A battery tapping diverse writing demands as low-level transcription skills as well as high-level writing skills was proposed to 13 individuals with WS, 12 individuals with DS and 11 mental-age-matched typically developing (TD) children.Results showed that the two groups with genetic syndromes did not differ from TD in writing a list of objects placed in bedroom, in the number of errors in the text composition, in a text copying task and in kind of errors made. However, in a word dictation task, individuals with DS made more errors than individuals with WS and TD children. In a pseudoword dictation task, both individuals with DS and WS showed more errors than TD children.Our results showed good abilities in individuals with ID in different aspects of writing, involving not only low-level transcription skills but also high-level composition skills.Contrary to the pessimistic view, considering individuals with ID vulnerable for failure, our results indicate that the presence of ID does not prevent the achievement of writing skills.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-142
Number of pages8
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Academic skills
  • Genetic syndromes
  • Intellectual disability
  • Writing abilities


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