Communicative Gesture Use in Infants With and Without Autism: A Retrospective Home Video Study Purpose The authors aimed to compare gesture use in infants with autism with gesture use in infants with other developmental disabilities (DD) or typical development (TD). Method Children with autism (n = 43), DD (n = 30), and TD (n = 36) were recruited at ages 2 to ... Research Article
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Research Article  |   February 01, 2013
Communicative Gesture Use in Infants With and Without Autism: A Retrospective Home Video Study
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Linda R. Watson
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Elizabeth R. Crais
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Grace T. Baranek
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Jessica R. Dykstra
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Kaitlyn P. Wilson
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Correspondence to Linda R. Watson: lwatson@med.unc.edu
  • Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer
    Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer×
  • Associate Editor: Juliann Woods
    Associate Editor: Juliann Woods×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 2013
Communicative Gesture Use in Infants With and Without Autism: A Retrospective Home Video Study
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, February 2013, Vol. 22, 25-39. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2012/11-0145)
History: Received December 2, 2011 , Accepted July 4, 2012
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, February 2013, Vol. 22, 25-39. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2012/11-0145)
History: Received December 2, 2011; Accepted July 4, 2012

Purpose The authors aimed to compare gesture use in infants with autism with gesture use in infants with other developmental disabilities (DD) or typical development (TD).

Method Children with autism (n = 43), DD (n = 30), and TD (n = 36) were recruited at ages 2 to 7 years. Parents provided home videotapes of children in infancy. Staff compiled video samples for 2 age intervals (9–12 and 15–18 months) and coded samples for frequency of social interaction (SI), behavior regulation (BR), and joint attention (JA) gestures.

Results At 9–12 months, infants with autism were less likely to use JA gestures than infants with DD or TD, and less likely to use BR gestures than infants with TD. At 15–18 months, infants with autism were less likely than infants with DD to use SI or JA gestures, and less likely than infants with TD to use BR, SI, or JA gestures. Among infants able to use gestures, infants with autism used fewer BR gestures than those with TD at 9–12 months, and fewer JA gestures than infants with DD or TD at 15–18 months.

Conclusion Differences in gesture use in infancy have implications for early autism screening, assessment, and intervention.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported, in part, by grants from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (R01-HD42168) and the Cure Autism Now Foundation (which has since merged with Autism Speaks). We thank the families whose participation made this study possible; the staff members who collected data, edited videotapes, and entered data for this project; and the student assistants and volunteers who coded gestures. We also acknowledge the invaluable assistance of John Bulluck in cleaning and verifying the databases prior to analyses, and the conceptual guidance and logistical assistance of Chris Wiesen (from the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) with the statistical analyses of the data.
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