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J Learn Disabil. 1996 Mar;29(2):180-96.

The psychoeducational profile of boys with Klinefelter syndrome.

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  • 1The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Klinefelter syndrome (KS) affects about 1 in 900 males due to an extra X chromosome. Although there are no obvious physical features associated with childhood KS, many boys demonstrate a cognitive deficit in verbal processing. The first section of this article integrates the extant literature on intelligence and achievement outcomes in boys with KS. The second section presents our findings from a 20-year study involving one of the largest unselected cohorts of boys with KS. We followed 36 boys with KS and 33 sibling controls from 6 until 20 years of age. Boys with KS are shown to demonstrate a verbal cognitive deficit and significant underachievement in reading and spelling, as well as in arithmetic. These problems, which are evident from early school years, increase with age such that by late adolescence, boys with KS are four to five grade levels behind. In addition, we also found that they were most likely to have a generalized type of learning disability, with very few boys indicating a pure reading or pure arithmetic problem. They also showed deficits in written language skills and acquisition of knowledge-based subject material were also problematic. Despite significant underachievement and frequent grade failure, many boys with KS had completed high school, and a few were also pursuing postsecondary educations. The discussion section examines how their language-based disability affects comprehension and learning, leading to underachievement.

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