The study aims to describe receptive language skills in children with intellectual disability (ID) and to contribute to the debate on deviant versus delayed language development. This is the 1st study of receptive skills in children with ID who speak a Slavic language, providing insight into how language development is affected by disability and also language typology.


Twenty-eight Slovak-speaking children participated in the study (14 children with ID and 14 typically developing [TD] children matched on nonverbal reasoning abilities). The children were assessed by receptive language tasks targeting words, sentences, and stories, and the groups were compared quantitatively and qualitatively.


The groups showed similar language profiles, with a better understanding of words, followed by sentences, with the poorest comprehension for stories. Nouns were comprehended better than verbs; sentence constructions also showed a qualitatively similar picture, although some dissimilarities emerged. Verb comprehension was strongly related to sentence comprehension in both groups and related to story comprehension in the TD group only.


The findings appear to support the view that receptive language skills follow the same developmental route in children with ID as seen in younger TD children, suggesting that language development is a robust process and does not seem to be differentially affected by ID even when delayed.


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