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How do parents of school-aged children respond to their children's extending gestures?

  • Charlotte WRAY (a1), Natalie SAUNDERS (a2) and Courtenay FRAZIER NORBURY (a2)

Gesture plays an important role in early language development, as how parents respond to their children's gestures may help to facilitate language acquisition. Less is known about whether parental responses facilitate language learning later in childhood and whether responses vary depending on children's language ability. This study explored parental responses to extending gestures in a sample of school-aged children (aged six to eight years) with developmental language disorder, low-language and educational concerns, and typically developing children. Overall there were no group differences in the types of responses parents provided to extending gestures. Parents predominantly responded with positive feedback but also displayed moderate proportions of verbal translations and clarification requests. Within the DLD group, the proportion of parent translations was negatively associated with language ability. Our finding suggests that parent responses serve to enhance communication and engage children in tasks, but there is limited evidence that they support new language learning at this age.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, OX3 7JX. E-mail:
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Journal of Child Language
  • ISSN: 0305-0009
  • EISSN: 1469-7602
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