The foundations of mathematical development in Williams syndrome and Down syndrome

Jo Van Herwegen, Erica Ranzato, Annette Karmiloff-Smith, Victoria Simms

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6 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Studies in Down syndrome (DS) and Williams syndrome (WS) have suggested that mathematical abilities are impaired. However, it is unclear which domain general or domain specific abilities impact on mathematical development in these developmental disorders. Method: The current study examined the foundations of mathematical development across participants with WS (n = 24) and DS (n = 26) compared to typically developing (TD) children (n = 26) in relation to domain general (i.e., general intelligence and visuospatial abilities) and domain specific abilities (non-symbolic and symbolic number abilities). Results: Developmental trajectories showed that mathematical abilities were delayed in line with overall mental age in DS and WS. Whilst visuospatial abilities predicted performance for DS and TD participants, this was not the case for the WS group, instead Approximate Number Sense abilities predicted mathematical development. Conclusions: These findings suggest that those with DS and WS may benefit from different mathematical intervention programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1080-1089
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number5
Early online date20 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present authors would like to thank all of the parents and children for taking part in this project. Further thanks also go to Eleonora Gabriele for her help with data input. This work was supported by a grant from the British Academy (SG151035).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Down syndrome
  • Williams syndrome
  • approximate number sense
  • mathematics
  • symbolic


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