Alessandra Assanelli, Laura D'Odorico, Fabia Franco, Nicoletta Salerni

Ritardo linguistico, attenzione congiunta e comunicazione gestuale

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This study aims to elucidate the relationship between joint attention and early language development in late talkers. We compared the use of communicative gestures in late talkers and typically developing toddlers to identify any quantitative and qualitative differences between their preverbal communicative styles. In particular, we investigated, in two experimental settings, the pointing gestures and associated behaviours, such as gaze towards social partner and vocalising. The results showed quantitative differences between late and average talkers regarding the amount of pointing produced in one of the experimental sessions: late talkers produced less pointing gestures in order to share with mother interest towards an external event, but in a situation of greater communicative pressure, late talkers exhibited a grater frequency of pointing than in the other conditions. Moreover, late talkers produced more associations of pointing and visual checking towards mother than average talkers. This result could be viewed as an effect of late talkers' reduced verbal initiations. While average talkers experience the efficacy of verbal labels in identifying referents of communication, late talkers' limited lexicon could cause them to verify more frequently their parents' focus of attention to insure that a common referent has actually established.

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