Abstract

This investigation examined (a) whether the ability to comprehend pantomimed gestures improves with age in young children and whether the ability to point to the actual object precedes the ability to point to a functional associate and (b) whether there is a difference in the ability to comprehend pantomimed gestures between learning-disabled and normal subjects. The Gesture Comprehension Test, the Imitation of Postures test, and the Test for Auditory Comprehension of Language were administered to 68 normal children and 24 learning-disabled children 4 to 6 years of age. Results indicated that gesture comprehension improved with age and that the ability to point to the actual object preceded the ability to point to its functional associate. Boys performed significantly better than girls. There was no significant difference between normal and learning-disabled subjects’ ability to comprehend gestures. A moderate correlation was found between the Gesture Comprehension Test and the Test for Auditory Comprehension of Language; a low correlation was found between the Gesture Comprehension Test and the Imitation of Postures test. These results suggest the possibility that in preschool children and young school-age children, gesture comprehension may be more closely related to language than to nonsymbolic aspects of praxis.

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