Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 1492–1507 | Cite as

Do Parents Model Gestures Differently When Children’s Gestures Differ?

  • Şeyda Özçalışkan
  • Lauren B. Adamson
  • Nevena Dimitrova
  • Stephanie Baumann
Original Paper


Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or with Down syndrome (DS) show diagnosis-specific differences from typically developing (TD) children in gesture production. We asked whether these differences reflect the differences in parental gesture input. Our systematic observations of 23 children with ASD and 23 with DS (Mages = 2;6)—compared to 23 TD children (Mage = 1;6) similar in expressive vocabulary—showed that across groups children and parents produced similar types of gestures and gesture-speech combinations. However, only children—but not their parents—showed diagnosis-specific variability in how often they produced each type of gesture and gesture-speech combination. These findings suggest that, even though parents model gestures similarly, the amount with which children produce each type largely reflects diagnosis-specific abilities.


Child gesture Parent gesture Autism Down syndrome Nonverbal input Gesture-speech combinations 



This research was supported by Grants from NSF (BCS 1251337, Özçalışkan), NIH (R01 HD035612, Adamson), and Swiss NSF (PBLAP1_142782, Dimitrova). We thank Jhonelle Bailey and Lauren Schmuck for their help in gesture coding and Katharine Suma and Claire Cusak for their assistance with compiling data summaries. We also thank the reviewers and the editor for their helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.

Author Contributions

ŞÖ and LBA contributed to the study concept and design. LBA supervised the use of the archive of video records and verbal transcripts. ŞÖ supervised the coding of the gestures and performed the statistical analysis. ND and SB participated in gesture coding, reliability assessments and compilation of data summaries. ŞÖ drafted the initial manuscript and all four authors provided critical revisions and approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

All parents provided informed consent for their and their child’s participation prior to their inclusion in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Şeyda Özçalışkan
    • 1
  • Lauren B. Adamson
    • 1
  • Nevena Dimitrova
    • 1
    • 2
  • Stephanie Baumann
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Service for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (SUPEA)-Research UnitVaud University Hospital (CHUV)LausanneSwitzerland

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