Conversational gestures in Autism Spectrum Disorders: asynchrony but not decreased frequency

Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, Connecticut 06269, USA.
Autism Research (Impact Factor: 4.33). 12/2010; 3(6):311-22. DOI: 10.1002/aur.159
Source: PubMed


Conversational or "co-speech" gestures play an important role in communication, facilitating turntaking, providing visuospatial information, clarifying subtleties of emphasis, and other pragmatic cues. Consistent with other pragmatic language deficits, individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are said to produce fewer conversational gestures, as specified in many diagnostic measures. Surprisingly, while research shows fewer deictic gestures in young children with ASD, there is a little empirical evidence addressing other forms of gesture. The discrepancy between clinical and empirical observations may reflect impairments unrelated to frequency, such as gesture quality or integration with speech. Adolescents with high-functioning ASD (n = 15), matched on age, gender, and IQ to 15 typically developing (TD) adolescents, completed a narrative task to assess the spontaneous production of speech and gesture. Naïve observers rated the stories for communicative quality. Overall, the ASD group's stories were rated as less clear and engaging. Although utterance and gesture rates were comparable, the ASD group's gestures were less closely synchronized with the co-occurring speech, relative to control participants. This gesture-speech synchrony specifically impacted communicative quality across participants. Furthermore, while story ratings were associated with gesture count in TD adolescents, no such relationship was observed in adolescents with ASD, suggesting that gestures do not amplify communication in this population. Quality ratings were, however, correlated with ASD symptom severity scores, such that participants with fewer ASD symptoms were rated as telling higher quality stories. Implications of these findings are discussed in terms of communication and neuropsychological functioning in ASD.

54 Reads
  • Source
    • "Psychological work has established links between children with ASD and atypicality in their facial gestures, prosody, and body gestures [4] [5] [6] [7]. On the computational front, effort has been made to analyze atypicality in prosody [8] [9] and asynchronization of speech and body gestures of children with ASD [5] [10]. Computational work to analyze and quantify subtle differences in facial expressions that are otherwise difficult to understand by mere visual inspection is scarce, but nevertheless of great importance. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are known to have difficulty in producing and perceiving emotional facial expressions. Their expressions are often perceived as atypical by adult observers. This paper focuses on data driven ways to analyze and quantify atypicality in facial expressions of children with ASD. Our objective is to uncover those characteristics of facial gestures that induce the sense of perceived atypicality in observers. Using a carefully collected motion capture database, facial expressions of children with and without ASD are compared within six basic emotion categories employing methods from information theory, time-series modeling and statistical analysis. Our experiments show that children with ASD exhibit lower complexity in facial dynamics, with the eye regions contributing more than other facial regions towards the differences between children with and without ASD. Our study also notes that children with ASD exhibit lower left-right facial symmetry, and more uniform motion intensity across facial regions.
    IEEE International Conference on Audio, Speech and Signal Processing (ICASSP), Brisbane Australia; 04/2015
  • Source
    • "Some research has looked at particular types of gesture use and found that adolescents with ASD show deficits in recognizing and imitating transitive, intransitive, and pantomime gestures compared to typically developing adolescents (Ham et al. 2011). Research on the personal use of gesture while narrating a story found that the gestures of adolescents with ASD tended to be less synchronized with their speech and less helpful in engaging listeners and improving the quality of their stories (de Marchena and Eigsti 2010). In typically developing children, gesture use has been shown to improve language and memory aspects of narration (Demir et al. 2013). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study examined the relationship between child language skills and parent and child gestures of 58 youths with and without an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. Frequencies and rates of total gesture use as well as five categories of gestures (deictic, conventional, beat, iconic, and metaphoric) were reliably coded during the collaborative Tower of Hanoi task. Children with ASD had lower Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test scores and gestured less and at lower rates compared to typically developing children. Gesture use was unrelated to vocabulary for typically developing children, but positively associated with vocabulary for those with ASD. Demographic correlates of gesturing differed by group. Gesture may be a point of communication intervention for families with children with ASD.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 02/2014; 44(8). DOI:10.1007/s10803-014-2069-y · 3.06 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Limited emotional expressiveness in non-verbal communication is also characteristic in ASC, and studies have demonstrated individuals with ASC have difficulties directing appropriate facial expressions to others [35] [36] [34], modulating their vocal intonation appropriately when expressing emotion [39] [42] [46] and using appropriate gestures and body language [1]. Integration of these non-verbal communicative cues with speech is also hampered [14]. Attempts to teach emotion and mental state recognition, either on an individual basis [10] [18] or as part of social skills group training [6] [27] [53], have shown mixed results. "
    Proceedings 1st International Workshop on Intelligent Digital Games for Empowerment and Inclusion (IDGEI 2013) held in conjunction with the 8th Foundations of Digital Games 2013 (FDG); 05/2013
Show more