Parents’ Translations of Child Gesture Facilitate Word Learning in Children with Autism, Down Syndrome and Typical Development
- 1.7k Downloads
Typically-developing (TD) children frequently refer to objects uniquely in gesture. Parents translate these gestures into words, facilitating children’s acquisition of these words (Goldin-Meadow et al. in Dev Sci 10(6):778–785, 2007). We ask whether this pattern holds for children with autism (AU) and with Down syndrome (DS) who show delayed vocabulary development. We observed 23 children with AU, 23 with DS, and 23 TD children with their parents over a year. Children used gestures to indicate objects before labeling them and parents translated their gestures into words. Importantly, children benefited from this input, acquiring more words for the translated gestures than the not translated ones. Results highlight the role contingent parental input to child gesture plays in language development of children with developmental disorders.
KeywordsParental responsiveness Child gesture Parental verbal input Autism Down syndrome Language development
This study was supported by grants by Swiss National Science Foundation (PBLAP1_142782, PI: Dimitrova), National Science Foundation (BCS 1251337, PI: Özçalışkan), and National Institutes of Health (R01 HD035612, PI: Adamson). We thank the participating families for their dedication to our research efforts. We also thank Lauren Schmuck and Jhonelle Bailey for their help in coding the data, along with the Action Editor and the reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.
All authors participated in the conception and design of the study, in the interpretation of the findings, and in the drafting of the manuscript. In addition, ND compiled the data and performed the statistical analysis, SO supervised the coding of child gestures, and LBA supervised the use of the archive of video records and verbal transcripts. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This study was approved by an ethics committee and has therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards specified in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. 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.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th edition (text revision). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
- Beeghly, M., & Cicchetti, D. (1987). An organizational approach to symbolic development in children with Down syndrome. In D. Cicchetti & M. Beeghly (Eds.), Atypical Symbolic Development (pp. 5–30). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Chapman, R. S. (1995). Language development in children and adolescents with Down syndrome. In P. Fletcher & B. MacWhinney (Eds.), Handbook of child language (pp. 641–663). Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
- Fenson, L., Dale, P., Reznick, J. S., Thal, D., Bates, E., Hartung, J. P., et al. (1993). The MacArthur communicative development inventories: Users’ guide and technical manual. San Diego: Singular Press.Google Scholar
- Goldin-Meadow, S. (2011). Learning through gesture. WIREs (Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews). Cognitive Science, 2(6), 595–607.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 and Communication Disorders, 38, 179–197.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Masur, E. (1982). Mothers’ responses to infants’ object-related gestures: Influences on lexical development. Merill-Palmer Quarterly, 8, 23–30.Google Scholar
- Miller, J. F. (1999). Profiles of language development in children with Down syndrome. In J. Miller, M. Leddy, & L. Leavitt (Eds.), Improving the communication of people with Down syndrome (pp. 11–40). Baltimore: Brookes.Google Scholar
- Özçalışkan, Ş., Adamson, L. B., & Dimitrova, N. (in press). Early deictic but not other gestures predict later vocabulary in both typical development and autism. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice.Google Scholar
- Özçalıskan, Ş., & Dimitrova, N. (2013). How gesture input provides a helping hand to language development. Seminars in Speech and Language, 34(4), 155–164.Google Scholar
- Özçalışkan, Ş., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2006). Role of gesture in children’s early constructions. In E. Clark & B. Kelly (Eds.), Constructions in acquisition (pp. 31–58). Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
- Wetherby, A., & Prizant, B. (2000). Autism spectrum disorders: A transactional developmental perspective. Baltimore: Paul Brookes.Google Scholar
- Wilcox, M. J., Shannon, M. S., & Bacon, C. K. (1992). Longer term outcomes of prelinguistic intervention. Paper presented at the Division for Early Childhood Meeting, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- Zampini, L. (2008). Produzione gestuale e pre-verbale a 24 mesi in bambini con sindrome di Down e bambini parlatori tardivi [Gestural and pre-verbal communication in 24-month-old children with Down syndrome and late-talking children]. Psicologia clinica dello sviluppo, 3, 511–527.Google Scholar
- Zimmerman, I. L., Steiner, V. G., & Pond, R. E. (2002). Preschool language scale (4th ed.). San Antonio: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar