Spontaneous Gesture Production and Lexical Abilities in Children With Specific Language Impairment in a Naming Task Purpose The purpose of the study was to investigate the role that cospeech gestures play in lexical production in preschool-age children with expressive specific language impairment (E-SLI). Method Fifteen preschoolers with E-SLI and 2 groups of typically developing (TD) children matched for chronological age (n = 15, CATD ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2016
Spontaneous Gesture Production and Lexical Abilities in Children With Specific Language Impairment in a Naming Task
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Manuela Lavelli
    University of Verona, Italy
  • Marinella Majorano
    University of Verona, Italy
  • 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 Manuela Lavelli: manuela.lavelli@univr.it
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Jenny Roberts
    Associate Editor: Jenny Roberts×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2016
Spontaneous Gesture Production and Lexical Abilities in Children With Specific Language Impairment in a Naming Task
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2016, Vol. 59, 784-796. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-14-0356
History: Received December 22, 2014 , Revised May 4, 2015 , Accepted January 23, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2016, Vol. 59, 784-796. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-14-0356
History: Received December 22, 2014; Revised May 4, 2015; Accepted January 23, 2016

Purpose The purpose of the study was to investigate the role that cospeech gestures play in lexical production in preschool-age children with expressive specific language impairment (E-SLI).

Method Fifteen preschoolers with E-SLI and 2 groups of typically developing (TD) children matched for chronological age (n = 15, CATD group) and for language abilities (n = 15, LATD group) completed a picture-naming task. The accuracy of the spoken answers (coded for types of correct and incorrect answers), the modality of expression (spoken and/or gestural), types of gestures, and semantic relationship between gestures and speech produced by children in the different groups were compared.

Results Children with SLI produced higher rates of phonological simplifications and unintelligible answers than CATD children, but lower rates of semantic errors than LATD children. They did not show a significant preference for spoken answers, as TD children did. Similarly to LATD children, they used gestures at higher rates than CATD, both deictic and representational, and both reinforcing the information conveyed in speech and adding correct information to co-occurring speech.

Conclusions These findings support the hypotheses that children with SLI rely on gestures for scaffolding their speech and do not have a clear preference for the spoken modality, as TD children do, and have implications for educational and clinical practice.

Acknowledgments
This work is part of a National Research Project Prin-2008, cofunded for 2 years (2010–2012) by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, and the University of Verona to Manuela Lavelli. Portions of these data were presented at the Child Language Seminar 2013, University of Manchester, UK, June 2013. We are grateful to Alessandra Grigoli and Giulia Turri for their help in collecting and coding the data, and to Chiara Barachetti and Romina Griselda Gimenez for their help in coding. We also thank all the mothers, the children, and the speech-language therapists who participated in the study.
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