Pediatric Health, Medicine and Therapeutics (Jul 2016)

Language and emotional abilities in children with Williams syndrome and children with autism spectrum disorder: similarities and differences

  • Lacroix A,
  • Famelart N,
  • Guidetti M

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2016, no. Issue 1
pp. 89 – 97


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Agnès Lacroix,1 Nawelle Famelart,2 Michèle Guidetti2 1Department of Psychology, Center for Research in Psychology, Cognition, and Communication, University of Rennes 2, Rennes, 2CLLE, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, UT2J, France Abstract: Williams syndrome (WS) is a genetic disease with a relatively homogeneous profile: relatively well-preserved language, impaired cognitive activities, and hypersociability. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a group of individuals with impairments in aspects of communication and a particular pattern of language acquisition. Although ASD and WS are polar opposites when it comes to communication abilities (language and emotion) and social behavior, comparisons between WS and ASD are still rare in the literature. ASD and WS are both associated with general language and developmental delays. Difficulties in social interaction and general pragmatic difficulties are reported in both ASD and WS, but are more pervasive in ASD. Regarding facial emotion recognition, the two syndromes differ markedly in sensitivity to human faces. Despite the heterogeneity of these two groups, only a few studies with children have paid sufficient attention to participant recruitment and study design. A number of aspects need to be taken into account (eg, small age range, homogeneity of the subgroups, matching with typically developing children) if scientific results are to inform the design of intervention programs for children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as ASD and WS. Keywords: neurodevelopmental disorders, facial emotion recognition, linguistic abilities, pragmatic abilities, emotions