The development of co-speech gesture and its semantic integration with speech in 6- to 12-year-old children with autism spectrum disorders

Wing Chee So*, Miranda Kit Yi Wong, Ming LUI, Virginia Yip

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Previous work leaves open the question of whether children with autism spectrum disorders aged 6-12 years have delay in producing gestures compared to their typically developing peers. This study examined gestural production among school-aged children in a naturalistic context and how their gestures are semantically related to the accompanying speech. Delay in gestural production was found in children with autism spectrum disorders through their middle to late childhood. Compared to their typically developing counterparts, children with autism spectrum disorders gestured less often and used fewer types of gestures, in particular markers, which carry culture-specific meaning. Typically developing children's gestural production was related to language and cognitive skills, but among children with autism spectrum disorders, gestural production was more strongly related to the severity of socio-communicative impairment. Gesture impairment also included the failure to integrate speech with gesture: in particular, supplementary gestures are absent in children with autism spectrum disorders. The findings extend our understanding of gestural production in school-aged children with autism spectrum disorders during spontaneous interaction. The results can help guide new therapies for gestural production for children with autism spectrum disorders in middle and late childhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)956-968
Number of pages13
JournalAutism
Volume19
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

User-Defined Keywords

  • autism spectrum disorders
  • communication and language
  • gesture
  • school-aged children
  • semantic integration

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