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Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch. 2003 Oct 1;34(4):320-331. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2003/026).

Early Intervention Practices and Communication Intervention Strategies for Young Males With Fragile X Syndrome.

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FPC Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
University of Memphis, TN.



This study describes speech-language pathologists' impressions of the communication difficulties of young males with fragile X syndrome (FXS) and the need for both syndrome-specific and individualized interventions. The findings of a regional study that identified speech-language pathologists' impressions of the speech, language, and behavioral difficulties experienced by males with FXS and an array of interventions used by speech-language pathologists to improve communication skills for these children are reported.


Fifty-one speech-language pathologists providing intervention for males with FXS ranging in age from 2 to 9 years (mean age=6;3 [years;months]) were interviewed.


The majority of the speech-language pathologists reported that boys with FXS exhibit a visually based, experiential or wholistic learning preference. They emphasized the necessity of making environmental accommodations for limited attention span, difficulties with topic and activity transitions, sensory deficits, and low threshold for anxiety. They reported that speech goals focused on slowing rate and increasing precision for verbal children and both low and high levels of assistive technology for nonverbal or minimally verbal children. Language goals focused on listening, auditory comprehension, and narrative/conversation skills. Pragmatic goals emphasized social dialogue, role playing, and topic maintenance.


This study suggests that young males with FXS present the clinician with a constellation of behaviors and communication impairments that are both syndrome specific and symptom familiar. The specific communication strengths and deficits described by clinicians working with these children are common to many children with speech and language impairments compounded by cognitive deficits. Intervention programs for young boys with FXS should also attend closely to the specific behavioral (e.g., increased anxiety, attention deficits) and sensory "overload" problems they often exhibit before designing a tailored intervention program.

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