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Title: Using gesture to support language
Author: Wray, Charlotte Zoe
ISNI:       0000 0004 8499 4259
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis presents a series of studies which investigated the link between gesture and language in children with developmental language disorder (DLD), in comparison to typically developing (TD) children and children with low language and educational concerns (LL). This thesis explores parent and child gesture skill using measures of gesture imitation and elicited gesture production, and spontaneous gestures across narrative and problem-solving tasks. Study 1 explored children's gesture production; children with DLD showed weaknesses in gesture accuracy in comparison to TD peers, but no differences in gesture rates. Also, children with DLD produced proportionally more extending gestures than TD peers, suggesting that they may use gesture to replace words that they are unable to verbalise. Study 2 investigated parent gesture in relation to child language ability. Parents of children with DLD used gesture more frequently than parents of TD or LL children, but only during parent-child interaction. Parent gesture frequency was positively associated with child gesture frequency, but negatively associated with child language ability. Study 3 explored parent responses to children's extending gestures; there were no group differences in the types of parent responses; parents of all groups predominantly responded with positive feedback. Finally, in a gesture training study gesture cues did not enhance verbal recall of new words; but did increase multi-modal responses, however only when children were explicitly instructed to attend to and imitate gestures. The findings indicate that children with DLD are motivated to use gesture during communication despite difficulties with gesture accuracy. Also, parent gestures reflect children's language deficits, rather than associating with increased linguistic skill. The limited benefit of gesture for word learning and the nature and impact of parent translations of child extending gestures calls into question the causal role of gesture in language acquisition, at least for school aged children.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Gesture ; Language ; Developmental Language Disorder ; Communication ; Children ; Parent-child interaction