Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia
Print version ISSN 1516-8034
FLABIANO-ALMEIDA, Fabíola Custódio and LIMONGI, Suelly Cecilia Olivan. The role of gestures in oral language development of typically developing children and children with Down syndrome. Rev. soc. bras. fonoaudiol. [online]. 2010, vol.15, n.3, pp. 458-464. ISSN 1516-8034. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1516-80342010000300023.
The aim of the present study was to characterize the role of gestures at the initial stages of oral language development in typically developing children and children with Down syndrome (DS), based on a large bibliographic review in scientific databases, covering the past two decades of studies on this subject. The researched literature suggests that the gestures play an important role in oral language development, providing the child with extra cognitive resources for the learning of new words and utterances. It has also been pointed out the social function of gestures in this process, since they sign to the interlocutor that the child is already ready to receive a particular linguistic input, eliciting verbal productions from the adult, who provide the child with the model of how to express his or her ideas completely in speech. Concerning the children with DS, the gestures also seems to be predictive of lexical development, but only regarding receptive vocabulary, while the specific difficulties reported concerning the transition from gesture-word combinations to multi-word utterances have been speculated as an early indicative of later deficits in syntax development, frequently reported in this population. Besides that, the studies in this field have suggested that the characteristics of the parent-child communicative interaction in children with DS, such as the production of brief and unclear gestures by the child, and the lesser responsivity of their mothers, can also contribute to the deficits in expressive language presented by these children.
Keywords : Gestures; Development; Oral language; Children; Down syndrome.