Gestures and Words in Early Development of Children With Down Syndrome This study investigated the development of language and communication in children with Down syndrome (DS). More specifically, the aim was to examine the relations among verbal comprehension, verbal production, and gesture production in the very early stages of development. Forty children (age range: 10–49 months) with DS and 40 children ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 1998
Gestures and Words in Early Development of Children With Down Syndrome
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • M. Cristina Caselli
    Institute of Psychology-CNR Rome, Italy
  • Stefano Vicari
    "Bambino Gesù" Pediatric Hospital S. Marinella-Rome, Italy
  • Emiddia Longobardi
    Institute of Psychology-CNR Rome, Italy
  • Laura Lami
    Center for Cognitive Disabilities Bologna, Italy
  • Claudia Pizzoli
    Center for Cognitive Disabilities Bologna, Italy
  • Giacomo Stella
    Center for Cognitive Disabilities Bologna, Italy
  • Contact author: M. Cristina Caselli, PhD, Istituto di Psicologia–C.N.R., Via Nomentana, 56, 00161 Roma, Italy
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 1998
Gestures and Words in Early Development of Children With Down Syndrome
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1998, Vol. 41, 1125-1135. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4105.1125
History: Received January 21, 1997 , Accepted January 21, 1998
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1998, Vol. 41, 1125-1135. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4105.1125
History: Received January 21, 1997; Accepted January 21, 1998

This study investigated the development of language and communication in children with Down syndrome (DS). More specifically, the aim was to examine the relations among verbal comprehension, verbal production, and gesture production in the very early stages of development. Forty children (age range: 10–49 months) with DS and 40 children with normal development (age range: 8–17 months) participated in this study. Children with DS came from two Italian health centers. The communicative and linguistic development of children with DS was measured by administering the Italian version of the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory. The children with DS were severely delayed when compared with normally developing children in reaching the developmental stages. In such children a dissociation emerged between verbal comprehension and production, in favor of comprehension, whereas a synchronous development was found between vocal lexical comprehension and gestural production. The individual differences previously reported in these children are also evident in all domains examined. There were no significant differences between children with DS and typically developing controls matched for lexical comprehension on verbal production. However the two groups differed significantly in gestural development, suggesting a "gesture advantage" in children with DS compared with controls matched for word comprehension. Some possible reasons for this dissociative profile are discussed.

Acknowledgments
Partial support for this project during the period of manuscript preparation was provided by the grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Early Childhood Transitions and by NIN/ NIDCD PO50 “Origins of Communicative Disorders” grant to Elizabeth Bates. The authors wish to thank Elizabeth Bates, Virginia Volterra, and Paola Casadio for their suggestions and criticism on a preliminary version of this work. We would like also to thank Patrizio Pasqualetti for help in data analysis and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.
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