The Intersection of the Development of Gestures and Intentionality

Crais, Elizabeth; Douglas, Diane Day; Campbell, Cheryl Cox
June 2004
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Jun2004, Vol. 47 Issue 3, p678
Academic Journal
This study examined the development of deictic and representational gestures in 12 typically developing children from 6 to 24 months of age. Gestures were categorized into J. Bruner's (1981) 3 broad (and 8 specific) communicative functions: behavior regulation (i.e., requesting objects, requesting actions, protesting), joint attention (i.e., commenting, requesting information), and social interaction (i.e., representational gestures, attention seeking, social games). Ongoing parental completion of researcher-created gesture recording forms and monthly researcher observational confirmation were used to capture the emergence and consistent use of targeted gestures. Within each specific functional category, a hierarchy of development was documented for the gestures and behaviors used to signal that intent This study provides rich detail as to the order of emergence of common deictic and representational gestures and their relationship to other preceding and concomitant behaviors that children use to signal their intentions. Furthermore, the results document younger ages of emergence, in comparison with previous studies, for most of the targeted gestures and provide insight into the controversy in the literature regarding the relative emergence of declarative and imperative gestures.


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