Verb Fast Mapping and Imitation in Children with Down Syndrome
Fast mapping is the ability to learn a new word after one or a few exposures. Research on verb fast mapping in children with Down syndrome (DS) has found mixed results. Imitation aids fast mapping of nouns (Schwartz & Leonard, 1985). Imitation and fast mapping of verbs has not been studied. The goal of this study was to investigate the impact of imitation on verb fast mapping in children and adolescents with DS. Fourteen English monolingual children with DS and fifteen English monolingual TD children matched on nonverbal mental age (DS) and chronological age (TD) participated in a fast mapping task. Participants were exposed to 8 novel verbs and actions using a figure with moveable limbs-half the verbs in an elicited imitation condition and half the verbs in a no imitation condition. They were then tested on their ability to produce and comprehend the novel verbs both immediately after exposure and after a delay of 15 minutes. Data were analyzed using two 3-way mixed Analyses of Covariance (ANCOVAs), as well as post hoc t-tests. Results showed that both groups performed better on the comprehension tasks than the production tasks, that TD participants performed significantly better than participants with DS on the production tasks and that both groups performed significantly better on immediate probes compared to delayed probes. Imitation did not improve fast mapping for either group, which was not expected.