The Use of Gestures in Typically Developing Children 9-15 Months of Age
AuthorStewart, Jessica Rae
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Gestures are defined as intentional movements that are interpretable by other individuals, used for the purpose of communicating meaning (Watson, Crais, Baranek, Dykstra, & Wilson, 2013). There has been much research surrounding the development of gestures and the association between gesture and language development; however, a limited number of studies have examined frequency of gesture use and the association between frequency of gesture use and language. The present study investigated the frequency of gesture use and the relationship between frequency of gesture use and language in 54 typically developing children between the ages of 9 and 15 months. A mean total frequency and frequencies of behavior regulation, social interaction, and joint attention gestures were identified. Children were found to have lower frequencies of gesture use in unstructured settings when compared to structured settings and children in the 9-12 month age range had lower frequencies of gesture use than children in the 12-15 month age range. Additionally, in both age ranges, frequencies of specific types of gestures were found to explain significant proportions of variance in both receptive and expressive language scores. The results of this study provide fundamental knowledge pertaining to typical development and will aid in early detection of language delays. Knowledge of the mean frequencies and the relationship between these frequencies and language abilities may now be used to gauge a young child’s current level of language functioning at an early age. This will allow for early detection of language delays so children can obtain necessary early intervention services, which is known to be associated with positive language outcomes.