Communicative Gestures in Children With Delayed Onset of Oral Expressive Vocabulary
Use of communicative gestures in a group of children with delayed onset of expressive oral vocabulary (late talkers) was compared with such use among normal-language-matched controls and age-matched controls. Analyses revealed that late talkers used significantly more communicative gestures and for a greater variety of communicative functions than did language-matched controls. However, a 1-year follow-up revealed that 4 of the late talkers remained delayed (truly delayed late talkers) and 6 caught up (late bloomers). Reanalyses of Year 1 data based on these follow-up outcomes demonstrated that only late bloomers used more communicative gestures than did language-matched controls. Truly delayed late talkers did not differ from language-matched controls either for number of gestures, type of gestures (symbolic vs. nonsymbolic), or number of different functions for which gestures were used. Late bloomers also used more communicative gestures than did age-matched controls, suggesting that they (the late bloomers) were using gestures to compensate for their small oral expressive vocabulary. Results are discussed in the context of early predictors of risk for language impairment and relationships between language and cognition.