SRCLD Presentation Details
Gesture production in specific language impairment: It’s quality not quantity that matters.
Charlotte Wray -
Royal Holloway, University of London
Courtenay Norbury -
University College London
It is generally assumed that children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) use gesture to compensate for deficits in oral language competence. However, gesture is a complex task integrating social, cognitive and motor skills. Thus, the ability to use gesture effectively in populations in which these precursor skills may be compromised is uncertain. The present study investigated gesture use in children with SLI during imitated, elicited and spontaneous gesture production, relative to typically developing peers. The findings indicate that children with SLI gestured as frequently as peers, and in complex tasks produced more extending gestures to convey information they could not verbalise. Nevertheless, the gestures they produced in imitation and elicitation tasks were not as accurate as those of their peers. The results support the notion that gesture and language form a tightly linked communication system in which gesture deficits are seen alongside difficulties with spoken communication. This research suggests that the quality, not quantity of gestures will distinguish children with SLI from typical peers. This research is funded by the Wellcome Trust (WT094836AIA) and the Waterloo Foundation.