Do Parents Model Gestures Differently When Children’s Gestures Differ?
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.
KeywordsChild 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.
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.
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.
All parents provided informed consent for their and their child’s participation prior to their inclusion in the study.
- Adamson, L. B., Bakeman, R., Deckner, D. F., & Nelson, P. B. (2012). Rating parent-child interactions: Joint engagement, communication dynamics, and shared topics in autism, Down syndrome, and typical development. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 2622–2635. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-012-1520-1.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
- Bates, E. (1976). Language and context: The acquisition of pragmatics. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Bates, E., Benigni, L., Bretherton, I., Camaioni, L., & Volterra, V. (1979). The emergence of symbols: cognition and communication in infancy. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Bekken, K. (1989). Is there motherese in gesture? Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago, Chicago.Google Scholar
- Caselli, M. C., Vicari, S., Longobardi, E., Lami, L., Pizzoli, C., & Stella, G. (1998). Gestures and words in early development of children with Down syndrome. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 41(5), 1125–1135. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1044/jslhr.4105.1125.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Dawson, G., Toth, K., Abbott, R., Osterling, J., Munson, J., Estes, A., & Liaw, J. (2004). Early social attention impairments in autism: Social orienting, joint attention, and attention to distress. Developmental Psychology, 40, 271–283. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-16188.8.131.521.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Dimitrova, N., Özçalıskan, S., & Adamson, L. B. (2016). Parents’ translations of child gesture facilitate word learning in children with autism, Down syndrome and typical development. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(1), 221–231. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-015-2566-7.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Goldin-Meadow, S. (2003). Hearing gesture: how our hands help us think. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Goldin-Meadow, S., & Butcher, C. (2003). Pointing toward two-word speech in young children. In S. Kita (Ed.), Pointing: Where language, culture, and cognition meet (pp. 85–107). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Greenfield, P., & Smith, J. (1976). The structure of communication in early language development. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Iverson, J. M., Longobardi, E., & Caselli, M. C. (2003). Relationship between gestures and words in children with Down’s syndrome and typically developing children in the early stages of communicative development. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 38, 179–197. https://doi.org/10.1080/1368282031000062891.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lillard, A. S. (1993). Pretend play skills and the child’s theory of mind. Child Development, 64(2), 348–371. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.1993.tb02914.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Lord, C., Rutter, M., & Le Couteur, A. (1994). Autism diagnostic interview-revised: A revised version of a diagnostic interview for caregivers of individuals with possible pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24, 659–685. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf02172145.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- McNeill, D. (1992). Hand and mind: What gestures reveal about thought. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Miller, J., & Iglesias, A. (2015). Systematic analysis of language transcripts (SALT), version 16 [Computer software]. Madison, WI: SALT Software, LLC.Google Scholar
- Mitchell, S. J. (2013). Infants at risk for autism spectrum disorder: gestures in infants and mothers. Doctoral dissertation, University of Toronto.Google Scholar
- Mullen, E. M. (1995). Mullen scales of early learning: AGS Edition. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
- Özçalıskan, Ş, Adamson, L. B., Dimitrova, N., & Baumann, N. (2017). Gesture provides a helping hand to vocabulary development in children with autism, Down syndrome and typical development. Journal of Cognition and Development, 18(3), 325–337. https://doi.org/10.1080/15248372.2017.1329735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Özçalışkan, Ş, & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2006a). ‘X is like Y’: The emergence of similarity mappings in children’s early speech and gesture. In G. Kristiansen, M. Achard, R. Dirven & F. de Mendoza (Eds.), Cognitive linguistics: Foundations and fields of application (pp. 229–262). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Özçalışkan, Ş, & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2006b). Role of gesture in children’s early constructions. In E. Clark & B. Kelly (Eds.), Constructions in acquisition (pp. 31–58). Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
- Özçalışkan, Ş, & Hodges, L. (2016). Jestlerin cocukların dilsel ve bilişsel gelişimindeki rolü (Role of gesture in cognitive and linguistic development). In C. Aydın, T. Göksun, A. Küntay & D. Tahiroglu (Eds.), Aklın Çocuk Hali: Zihin Gelişimi Araştırmaları (Studies on Cognitive Development) (pp. 83–106). Istanbul: Koç University Press.Google Scholar
- Rondal, J. A. (1988). Down’s syndrome. In D. Bishop & K. Mogford (Eds.), Language development in exceptional circumstances. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.Google Scholar
- Tager-Flusberg, H. (2007). Atypical language development: Autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. In E. Hoff & M. Shatz (Eds.), Blackwell Handbook of Language Development. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
- Talbott, M. R., Nelson, C. A., & Tager-Flusberg, H. (2015). Maternal gesture use and language development in infant siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(1), 4–14. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-013-1820-0.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar