Exploring the Relationship Between Gesture and Language in ASD In this paper, we will explore the relationship between gesture and language in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Gesture and speech have been shown to share the same neural substrates, and it has been proposed that speech evolved over time from a gestural repertoire. Simultaneously, research in gesture and language has ... Article
Article  |   March 2012
Exploring the Relationship Between Gesture and Language in ASD
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Heidi Stieglitz Ham
    University of QueenslandSt. Lucia, Queensland, Australia
  • Angela Bartolo
    Universit́ de Lille Nord de FranceLille, France
  • © 2012 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Articles
Article   |   March 2012
Exploring the Relationship Between Gesture and Language in ASD
SIG 1 Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, March 2012, Vol. 19, 56-65. doi:10.1044/lle19.2.56
SIG 1 Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, March 2012, Vol. 19, 56-65. doi:10.1044/lle19.2.56

In this paper, we will explore the relationship between gesture and language in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Gesture and speech have been shown to share the same neural substrates, and it has been proposed that speech evolved over time from a gestural repertoire. Simultaneously, research in gesture and language has shown that gesture plays a critical role in language development, and a gestural disturbance may be a predictor of future language development. Individuals with autism often present with imitation deficits, developmental dyspraxia, and deficits in motor coordination. Taken together, these deficits pose challenges to the speech-language pathologist providing therapy to these clients. If gesture is indeed critical to language development, and individuals with ASD demonstrate gestural deficits, new therapies are needed to bridge this gap. We will describe an innovative battery of tasks assessing gesture and discuss future gestural intervention.

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