Communication in Angelman syndrome: a scoping review

E. Pearson, L. Wilde, M. Heald, R. Royston, C. Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A scoping review was conducted to examine and evaluate empirical data on the communication profile of Angelman syndrome beyond the described dissociation between receptive language and speech.

Three databases (PsycINFO, Embase, and Web of Science) were searched to retrieve articles investigating communication in Angelman syndrome. Seventeen articles investigating the broader communication profile were found; their methodology was evaluated against quality criteria.

Despite the absence of speech, individuals with Angelman syndrome have a wide repertoire of non‐verbal communicative behaviours, mainly characterized by gestures, although advanced forms such as symbolic communication are used by some individuals. The use of communicative forms differs between the genetic aetiologies of Angelman syndrome; individuals with non‐deletion aetiologies typically have greater communicative abilities.

The broader communication profile of Angelman syndrome is characterized by diverse and multimodal abilities, including some use of symbolic forms of communication that appears atypical given the absence of speech. This is suggestive of a probable dissociation between speech and other expressive forms of communication, indicating an isolated speech production impairment. This highlights a need in this population for alternative communication and specific input from services tailored to support the nuances of the communication profile of Angelman syndrome.

What this paper adds
Although absent speech is near universal, a diverse profile of other communicative abilities has been reported.
Parental reporting has been predominantly used to assess the communication profile of Angelman syndrome.
Literature that investigates the specificities and possible dissociations in such a communication profile is limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1266-1274
JournalDevelopmental Medicine and Child Neurology
Issue number11
Early online date10 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


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