Gesture and Motor Skill in Relation to Language in Children With Language Impairment PurposeTo examine gesture and motor abilities in relation to language in children with language impairment (LI).MethodEleven children with LI (aged 2;7 to 6;1 [years;months]) and 16 typically developing (TD) children of similar chronological ages completed 2 picture narration tasks, and their language (rate of verbal utterances, mean length of utterance, ... Article
Article  |   February 01, 2011
Gesture and Motor Skill in Relation to Language in Children With Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jana M. Iverson
    University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Barbara A. Braddock
    University of Missouri—Columbia
  • Contact author: Jana M. Iverson, Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, 3415 Sennott Square, 210 South Bouquet Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. E-mail: jiverson@pitt.edu.
  • Barbara A. Braddock is now with the Department of Pediatrics, St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO.
    Barbara A. Braddock is now with the Department of Pediatrics, St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO.×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language
Article   |   February 01, 2011
Gesture and Motor Skill in Relation to Language in Children With Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2011, Vol. 54, 72-86. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/08-0197)
History: Received September 22, 2008 , Revised September 22, 2009 , Accepted May 21, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2011, Vol. 54, 72-86. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/08-0197)
History: Received September 22, 2008; Revised September 22, 2009; Accepted May 21, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 30

PurposeTo examine gesture and motor abilities in relation to language in children with language impairment (LI).

MethodEleven children with LI (aged 2;7 to 6;1 [years;months]) and 16 typically developing (TD) children of similar chronological ages completed 2 picture narration tasks, and their language (rate of verbal utterances, mean length of utterance, and number of different words) and gestures (coded for type, co-occurrence with language, and informational relationship to language) were examined. Fine and gross motor items from the Battelle Developmental Screening Inventory (J. Newborg, J. R. Stock, L. Wneck, J. Guidubaldi, & J. Suinick, 1994) and the Child Development Inventory (H. R. Ireton, 1992) were administered.

ResultsRelative to TD peers, children with LI used gestures at a higher rate and produced greater proportions of gesture-only communications, conventional gestures, and gestures that added unique information to co-occurring language. However, they performed more poorly on measures of fine and gross motor abilities. Regression analyses indicated that within the LI but not the TD group, poorer expressive language was related to more frequent gesture production.

ConclusionsWhen language is impaired, difficulties are also apparent in motor abilities, but gesture assumes a compensatory role. These findings underscore the utility of including spontaneous gesture and motor abilities in clinical assessment of and intervention for preschool children with language concerns.

Acknowledgments
This article is based on a thesis submitted by the second author to the University of Missouri—Columbia in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the master of arts degree. Portions of the research were presented at the Joint Meetings of the International Association for the Study of Child Language and the Society for Research in Child Language Disorders, Madison, WI, July 2002, and at the XI International Congress for the Study of Child Language, Edinburgh, UK, July 2008. We thank Travis Thompson for assistance with establishing reliability; Nelson Cowan, Philip Dale, Janet Farmer, and David Geary for their intellectual contributions throughout the project; Robert Wozniak for insightful comments on earlier versions of this article; and Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal for statistical advice.
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