Precursors of Intentional Communication Skills in Children

A child pointing to communicate with his family at the kitchen table.

Children following typical development communicate long before using their first words. They communicate non-verbally through pointing and gestures, as well as with sounds and babbling.

Children who will later come into contact with a speech therapist due to concerns or difficulties in language and communication, such as in the case of a neurodevelopmental disorder, may have exhibited early signs already in the first year of life.

Project Goals

The project aims to develop and test a checklist where various behaviors are described for parents of children at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months of age. The specific behaviors listed on the checklist (e.g., pointing) are considered crucial for the development of meaningful linguistic communicative abilities. Meaningful linguistic communicative abilities include linguistic content, i.e., the meaning of an expression, linguistic form, i.e., the words or sentence structure, and linguistic use, i.e., how to use linguistic form, for example, to request something. Specific early behaviors in children are essential for the development and identification of linguistic content, form, and use. More knowledge can lead to better early diagnosis and support interventions.

Results from the project will form the basis for a later longitudinal study on the connection between early communicative behaviors and later linguistic and communicative abilities in interaction with others.

The project is supported by The Joanna Cocozza Foundation for Children's Medical Research.