Department of Education Studies
The use of hand gestures to communicate about nonpresent objects in mind among children with autism spectrum disorder
© 2015 American Speech-Language-Hearing AssociationPurpose: The current study examined whether children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), in comparison with typically developing children, perceive and produce gestures to identify nonpresent objects (i.e., referent-identifying gestures), which is crucial for communicating ideas in a discourse. Method: An experimenter described the uses of daily-life objects to 6- to 12-year-old children both orally and with gestures. The children were then asked to describe how they performed daily activities using those objects. Results: All children gestured. A gesture identified a nonpresent referent if it was produced in the same location that had previously been established by the experimenter. Children with ASD gestured at the specific locations less often than typically developing children. Verbal and spatial memory were positively correlated with the ability to produce referent-identifying gestures for all children. However, the positive correlation between Raven’s Children Progressive Matrices score and the production of referent-identifying gestures was found only in children with ASD. Conclusions: Children with ASD might be less able to perceive and produce referent-identifying gestures and may rely more heavily on visual–spatial skills in producing referentidentifying gestures. The results have clinical implications for designing an intervention program to enhance the ability of children with ASD to communicate about nonpresent objects with gestures.
Source Publication Title
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Link to Publisher's Edition
So, W., Lui, M., Wong, T., & Sit, L. (2015). The use of hand gestures to communicate about nonpresent objects in mind among children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 58, 373-382. https://doi.org/10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0213