Refereed journal article or data article (A1)

Gesture-speech integration in children with specific language impairment

List of Authors: Mainela-Arnold E, Alibali MW, Hostetter AB, Evans JL


Publication year: 2014

Journal: International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders


Journal acronym: INT J LANG COMM DIS

Volume number: 49

Start page: 761

End page: 770

Number of pages: 10

ISSN: 1368-2822


BackgroundPrevious research suggests that speakers are especially likely to produce manual communicative gestures when they have relative ease in thinking about the spatial elements of what they are describing, paired with relative difficulty organizing those elements into appropriate spoken language. Children with specific language impairment (SLI) exhibit poor expressive language abilities together with within-normal-range nonverbal IQs.AimsThis study investigated whether weak spoken language abilities in children with SLI influence their reliance on gestures to express information. We hypothesized that these children would rely on communicative gestures to express information more often than their age-matched typically developing (TD) peers, and that they would sometimes express information in gestures that they do not express in the accompanying speech.Methods & ProceduresParticipants were 15 children with SLI (aged 5;6-10;0) and 18 age-matched TD controls. Children viewed a wordless cartoon and retold the story to a listener unfamiliar with the story. Children's gestures were identified and coded for meaning using a previously established system. Speech-gesture combinations were coded as redundant if the information conveyed in speech and gesture was the same, and non-redundant if the information conveyed in speech was different from the information conveyed in gesture.Outcomes & ResultsChildren with SLI produced more gestures than children in the TD group; however, the likelihood that speech-gesture combinations were non-redundant did not differ significantly across the SLI and TD groups. In both groups, younger children were significantly more likely to produce non-redundant speech-gesture combinations than older children.Conclusions & ImplicationsThe gesture-speech integration system functions similarly in children with SLI and TD, but children with SLI rely more on gesture to help formulate, conceptualize or express the messages they want to convey. This provides motivation for future research examining whether interventions focusing on increasing manual gesture use facilitate language and communication in children with SLI.

Last updated on 2022-01-02 at 16:29