Tutorial  |   February 2009
Use of Gesture Development in Profiling Children’s Prelinguistic Communication Skills
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Elizabeth R. Crais
    The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Linda R. Watson
    The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Grace T. Baranek
    The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Contact author: Elizabeth Crais, Division of Speech & Hearing Sciences, CB #7190, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7190. E-mail: bcrais@med.unc.edu.
Development / Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Early Identification & Intervention / Language Disorders / Social Communication & Pragmatics Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Tutorial
Tutorial   |   February 2009
Use of Gesture Development in Profiling Children’s Prelinguistic Communication Skills
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology February 2009, Vol.18, 95-108. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2008/07-0041)
History: Accepted 29 Jun 2008 , Received 05 Jun 2007
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology February 2009, Vol.18, 95-108. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2008/07-0041)
History: Accepted 29 Jun 2008 , Received 05 Jun 2007

Purpose: Comparing children’s skills across and within domains of development has become a standard in providing early intervention services. Profiling a child’s strengths and challenges can help in making decisions regarding eligibility, diagnosis, and intervention. Profiling is particularly important for children who are not yet talking, due to the variability in production skills and the lack of guidelines as to which children are “at risk” for communication deficits versus those who are “late talkers.” One area underutilized in profiling is gesture development, despite the fact that research has indicated that the amount and type of gesture use can help in early identification and is predictive of later language.

Method: To guide practicing professionals and researchers in using gesture development to profile children’s communication skills, this article provides an overview of the types of gestures and their development, describes assessment methods and tools to document gesture development, pinpoints behaviors and factors important in identifying children with disabilities, and ends with brief examples of using profiling in assessment and intervention planning.

Conclusions: Gesture use should be an important component in profiling children’s communication skills, and this type of profiling can enhance both the assessment and intervention process.

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