Communicative Functions & Means

Normal children produce the pointing gesture by 9-14 months (Bruner, 1983; Murphy, 1978) use it for at least two different functions: –

  1. Protoimperative Functions
  2. Protodeclarative Functions

In the former one, the infant points in order to use another person to obtain an object whereas the later one is used to comment or remark on the world to another person. Pointing has been reported to be normal in Autism.

Communicative functions and means
Communicative functions and means

Fine-grain analyses of gestures in autism suggest that those gestures used for requesting objects, actions or social routines may be present in autism, whilst gestures sharing an awareness of an objects existence or properties are absent. According to premack & premack, 1983, protodeclarative pointing has been postulated to be one of the earliest gestural forms of joint attention (reciprocal) behaviours, dialogue, reference, deixis, theory of mind and symbols use. Once these gestures are impaired various psychological abilities are also impaired.


References: –

  • British journal Of Developmental Psychology (1989), 7, 113-127 [Simon Baron- Cohen]
  • American Psychiatric Association (1994) “Beyond Pointing – Clements & Chawarska”
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