Cat, rat, and rugrats: Narrative comprehension in young children with Down syndrome

Ockjean Kim, Panayiota Kendeou, Paul Van Den Broek, Mary Jane White, Kathleen Kremer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We examined whether young children with Down syndrome are sensitive to the causal structure of complex, authentic and age-appropriate stories, whether their narrative comprehension is similar across presentation media (i.e., television vs. audio), and whether their narrative comprehension is related to their basic language skills. Twelve 6- and 7-year old children with Down syndrome participated. Results indicated that: (a) the children were sensitive to the story's causal structure, a central aspect of successful narrative comprehension, especially to that of the TV narrative, (b) children's narrative comprehension measures (e.g., amount recalled) were similar across media, and (c) children's narrative comprehension skills were relatively independent from basic language skills such as vocabulary, phonological awareness, or letter knowledge. Results are discussed with respect to theories of language comprehension and approaches to instruction of children with Down syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-351
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was supported by funding from the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA)/National Science Foundation (NSF), TR R305 R7004, the Guy Bond Endowment in Reading and Literacy, a Golestan fellowship from the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD-07151), and also by support from the Center for Early Education and Development (CEED), the Eva O. Miller Graduate School Fellowship, and the Center for Cognitive Sciences, all at the University of Minnesota. The authors also would like to thank Sarah Erickson for her contribution to the development of the study and initial data collection. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Paul van den Broek, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota, 178 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 or at


  • Causal connections
  • Down syndrome
  • Narrative comprehension
  • Television story


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