Gesture Production in Language Impairment: It's Quality, Not Quantity, That Matters Purpose The aim of this study was to determine whether children with language impairment (LI) use gesture to compensate for their language difficulties. Method The present study investigated gesture accuracy and frequency in children with LI (n = 21) across gesture imitation, gesture elicitation, spontaneous narrative, and interactive ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 14, 2017
Gesture Production in Language Impairment: It's Quality, Not Quantity, That Matters
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Charlotte Wray
    Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Natalie Saunders
    Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Rosie McGuire
    Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Georgia Cousins
    Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Courtenay Frazier Norbury
    Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
    Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • 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 Charlotte Wray: charlotte.wray.2013@rhul.ac.uk
  • Editor: Sean Redmond
    Editor: Sean Redmond×
  • Associate Editor: Patricia Eadie
    Associate Editor: Patricia Eadie×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 14, 2017
Gesture Production in Language Impairment: It's Quality, Not Quantity, That Matters
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2017, Vol. 60, 969-982. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-16-0141
History: Received April 8, 2016 , Revised August 22, 2016 , Accepted October 13, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2017, Vol. 60, 969-982. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-16-0141
History: Received April 8, 2016; Revised August 22, 2016; Accepted October 13, 2016

Purpose The aim of this study was to determine whether children with language impairment (LI) use gesture to compensate for their language difficulties.

Method The present study investigated gesture accuracy and frequency in children with LI (n = 21) across gesture imitation, gesture elicitation, spontaneous narrative, and interactive problem-solving tasks, relative to typically developing (TD) peers (n = 18) and peers with low language and educational concerns (n = 21).

Results Children with LI showed weaknesses in gesture accuracy (imitation and gesture elicitation) in comparison to TD peers, but no differences in gesture rate. Children with low language only showed weaknesses in gesture imitation and used significantly more gestures than TD peers during parent–child interaction. Across the whole sample, motor abilities were significantly related to gesture accuracy but not gesture rate. In addition, children with LI produced proportionately more extending gestures, suggesting that they may use gesture to replace words that they are unable to articulate verbally.

Conclusion The results support the notion that gesture and language form a tightly linked communication system in which gesture deficits are seen alongside difficulties with spoken communication. Furthermore, it is the quality, not quantity of gestures that distinguish children with LI from typical peers.

Acknowledgments
This research was funded by grants from the Wellcome Trust (WT094836AIA) to the fourth author and the Waterloo Foundation to the first and fourth authors. We extend a warm thank you to all of the children and parents who took part in this study. Recruitment, data collection, and coding were completed by the first author under the supervision of the fourth author. The second, third, and fourth authors transcribed the tasks and assisted with gesture coding and reliability checking.
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