תקציר הצעת המחקר לדוקטורט        
 
Comprehension and Production of  Gestures within Pre-School Children with  Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and Children with Cerebral Palsy (CP), Pre and Post Motor and Semantic Intervention Plans

The aim of the current research is to examine the abilities to produce

and understand gestures by 5-6 year old children experiencing language

and motor difficulties. An additional and equally important goal is to

examine the effect of language and motor intervention plans on gestures

comprehension and production within both populations.

 

Gestures are meaningful body movements that are used by individuals in their daily social communications. They may accompany speech or appear without it, and they function as an 'additive' to the general meaning of the message by clarifying it.  In addition to their use in interpersonal communication, gestures assist the comprehension process and the transition to spoken language.

 

Only a handful of studies directly examined the ability to understand and produce gestures within 'special' populations, till now the focus was mostly on imitating gestures by children that are within the autistic spectrum. In the current study we will focus on two populations that experience both motor and language difficulties: Children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) that possess a language impairment accompanied by a motor impairment and children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) that possess a motor impairment accompanied by a language impairment.

 

We will examine if there are difficulties imitating gestures among children with SLI and children with CP, compared to a group of normatively developing children of the same age. Since children with SLI are known to have difficulties imitating body and hand movements and due to the basic motor difficulties children with CP experience, we assume that both groups will experience difficulties in imitating gestures compared with groups of normally developing children of the same age. In addition, we will examine if children with SLI or CP have difficulties comprehending gestures compared with groups of normally developing children of the same age. Based on a study that indicates that children with SLI have poor comprehension abilities and considering the language difficulties that accompany CP, we assumed difficulties comprehending gestures in both groups, compared with groups of normally developing children (TD-Typically Developing) of the same age.

 

In the current study, we will run motor and language interventions and examine their effect on comprehension and production of gestures, in the following manner: Every population group (CP, SLI, TD) (N=45) will be divided into 3 sub-groups: Language Intervention (N=15), Motor Intervention (N=15) and a control group (N=15). We assumed that training the population will bring an improvement in comprehension and production of gestures.