Gesture screening in young infants: Highly sensitive to risk factors for communication delay.
Alcock, K. J., Meints, K., & Rowland, C. (2017). The UK-CDI: Gesture screening in young infants: Highly sensitive to risk factors for communication delay. Paper presented at the International Association for the Study of Child Language, Lyon, France.
Screening for early signs of communication delay usually includes spoken and receptive language. Gesture measurement can be an afterthought; the communicative Development Inventory (CDI) Gesture scale in English1 has never been validated. Gestures are used frequently by infants and can be an important source of information. We report data from the UK-CDI Words & Gestures (W&G) scale, investigating validity and sensitivity of the UK-CDI Gesture scale. Parents of 1212 children aged 8-18 months completed the UK-CDI, and the Family questionnaire assessing biological and social risk factors. Thirty families of 16-18 month olds also completed a gesture challenge task. This first validation of the Gesture scale yielded significant correlation between gesture challenge and CDI Gesture scores. Both gesture and vocabulary had high internal consistency. Gesture scores correlated significantly with more biological and social risk factors than verbal comprehension or production. Gesture correlated with gender, birthweight, prematurity, firstborn status, and childcare hours. Comprehension correlated with firstborn status and childcare hours, and production with birthweight, prematurity, firstborn status and childcare hours. Controlling for age, gesture alone was significantly poorer in boys, babies born before 33 weeks, and children with fewer hours in childcare. Gesture and verbal production were together poorer in children with lower birthweights. Gesture, verbal comprehension and production were poorer in children with family history of language impairment. Verbal comprehension alone was poorer in later-borns and children with some levels of parental education; verbal comprehension and production were poorer in children of mothers in some age groups. The findings for maternal age and parental education indicate that gesture scores may be influenced less by social desirability. In some groups families may over-report vocabulary but assess gesture more realistically. We conclude that gesture is sensitive to risk of future communication difficulties, and our parental report gesture scale is valid and internally consistent.