The Use of Hand Gestures to Communicate About Nonpresent Objects in Mind Among Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Purpose The current study examined whether children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), in comparison with typically developing children, perceive and produce gestures to identify nonpresent objects (i.e., referent-identifying gestures), which is crucial for communicating ideas in a discourse. Method An experimenter described the uses of daily-life objects to ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2015
The Use of Hand Gestures to Communicate About Nonpresent Objects in Mind Among Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Wing-Chee So
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Ming Lui
    Hong Kong Baptist University, China
  • Tze-Kiu Wong
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Long-Tin Sit
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Wing-Chee So: wingchee@cuhk.edu.hk
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Joanne Volden
    Associate Editor: Joanne Volden×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2015
The Use of Hand Gestures to Communicate About Nonpresent Objects in Mind Among Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2015, Vol. 58, 373-382. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0213
History: Received August 7, 2014 , Revised November 3, 2014 , Accepted November 29, 2014
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2015, Vol. 58, 373-382. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0213
History: Received August 7, 2014; Revised November 3, 2014; Accepted November 29, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2

Purpose The current study examined whether children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), in comparison with typically developing children, perceive and produce gestures to identify nonpresent objects (i.e., referent-identifying gestures), which is crucial for communicating ideas in a discourse.

Method An experimenter described the uses of daily-life objects to 6- to 12-year-old children both orally and with gestures. The children were then asked to describe how they performed daily activities using those objects.

Results All children gestured. A gesture identified a nonpresent referent if it was produced in the same location that had previously been established by the experimenter. Children with ASD gestured at the specific locations less often than typically developing children. Verbal and spatial memory were positively correlated with the ability to produce referent-identifying gestures for all children. However, the positive correlation between Raven's Children Progressive Matrices score and the production of referent-identifying gestures was found only in children with ASD.

Conclusions Children with ASD might be less able to perceive and produce referent-identifying gestures and may rely more heavily on visual–spatial skills in producing referent-identifying gestures. The results have clinical implications for designing an intervention program to enhance the ability of children with ASD to communicate about nonpresent objects with gestures.

Acknowledgments
This research was fully supported by Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, Project 449813, awarded to Wing-Chee So, and Chinese University of Hong Kong Projects CUHK4930017, awarded to Wing-Chee So, and CUHK4058005, awarded to Wing-Chee So and Virginia Yip. We acknowledge the help of our research assistants Ben Ka-Ho Choi, Wing-Lam Amy Chong, Sheera Chan, and Hiu-Man Lavender Chiu. Special thanks to all of the children and their parents for their help and their dedication to education.
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