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J Autism Dev Disord. 2019 Apr;49(4):1438-1454. doi: 10.1007/s10803-018-3829-x.

Atypicalities of Gesture Form and Function in Autistic Adults.

Author information

1
Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of the Sciences, 600 S 43rd Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA. a.demarchena@usciences.edu.
2
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Center for Autism Research, Roberts Center for Pediatric Research, 2716 South Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA. a.demarchena@usciences.edu.
3
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Center for Autism Research, Roberts Center for Pediatric Research, 2716 South Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA.
4
Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, 425 S. University Avenue, Steven A. Levin Building, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA.
5
Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA.
6
Department of Psychiatry, Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 3535 Market Street, 3rd Floor, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA.
7
Department of Psychiatry, Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Translational Research Laboratory, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 125 South 31st Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA.
8
Department of Pediatrics, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 3401 Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA.

Abstract

While well-represented on clinical measures, co-speech gesture production has never been formally studied in autistic adults. Twenty-one verbally fluent autistic adults and 21 typically developing controls engaged in a controlled conversational task. Group differences were observed in both semantic/pragmatic and motoric features of spontaneously produced co-speech gestures. Autistic adults prioritized different functions of co-speech gesture. Specifically, they used gesture more than controls to facilitate conversational turn-taking, demonstrating a novel nonverbal strategy for regulating conversational dynamics. Autistic adults were more likely to gesture unilaterally than bilaterally, a motoric feature of gesture that was individually associated with autism symptoms. Co-speech gestures may provide a link between nonverbal communication symptoms and known differences in motor performance in autism.

KEYWORDS:

Adulthood; Autism spectrum disorder; Conversation; Gesture; Motor skills; Nonverbal communication

PMID:
30523479
PMCID:
PMC6451661
[Available on 2020-04-01]
DOI:
10.1007/s10803-018-3829-x

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