|Publicerad i||Paper Symposium. Society for Research in Child Development, Biennial Meeting. Austin, Texas, USA: 6-8 April.|
|Ämnesord||Down Syndrome, imitation, memory, theory-of-mind|
Down syndrome (DS) is a chromosomal aberration usually recognized at birth or shortly thereafter and children with this diagnosis typically end up being mildly to moderately disabled intellectually although the discrepancy between a normal baby and a Down baby often is less obvious during the first 6 to 9 months of life (Cicchetti & Beeghly, 1990). From a psychological perspective, socio-cognitive aspects such as memory, theory of mind, and imitation are still incompletely studied for this group of children (e.g. Milojevich & Lukowski, 2016). Too often, children with DS are used mainly as a comparison group; thus not being the main target for the scientific inquiry. Here, recall memory, imitation and theory of mind (ToM) are investigated longitudinally in a group of children with DS. Participants. Twenty children with Down syndrome were observed at six years of age (T1; M = 62.7 months) and thirteen of these seven years later (T2; M = 147.7 months). Mental age (31.6 months at T1 and 22.5 months at T2) and language age (26.8 months at T1 and 55.3 months at T2) was also estimated. A matched comparison group of 23 typically developing (TD) children participated at T1. Procedure. At T1recall memory was measured with deferred imitation (Heimann & Meltzoff, 1996), immediate and spontaneous imitation with an interactive play procedure (Nadel, 2014) and early stages of theory of mind with an uninterpretable task, a “droodle” picture (Perner & Davies, 1991). At T2 working memory was measured with Corsi blocks, short term memory with a digit span test, immediate imitation through a hand gesture test (Gleissner et al., 2000), and ToM with (1) a five-point scale developed by Wellman and Liu (2004), and (2) a procedure developed by Hobson and Hobson (2007). Findings. At T1, the DS group performed on par with the TD group on both spontaneous and immediate imitation but significantly worse on recall memory (Table 1). None of the children passed the droodle task. At follow-up (T2) few children completed all tests. As shown in Figure 1 only five significant or near significant associations emerged. Concurrent associations were found between our memory measures and ToM (the Wellman and Liu scale) and between memory and immediate imitation. Seven of the children passed the diverse belief task on the Wellman and Liu scale but only two managed to solve the contents false belief task. Looking at predictive associations from T1 to T2 we found a trend towards a signficant correlation between immediate imitation at T1 and the Hobson and Hobson ToM task at T2 (r(13) = .538, p = .058) as well as between immediate imitation at T1 and mental age at T2 (r(8) = .627, p = .096). Discussion. The children with DS performed worse on recall memory at T1 but this did not impact any measures at T2. Immediate imitation was the only measure where a predictive trend was noted from T1 and T2. The children showed development of ToM from T1 to T2 although still performing at a low level.