Giving a "high five" to imitating gestures!

Written by: Kaitlin Bednarz M.S. CCC-SLP


High-five! Fist bump! These are two examples of social gestures used between two people. A gesture is defined as a movement of the body used to express meaning. Imitating and using gestures is a very important skill for language development and social communication. Motor imitation of gestures typically develops prior to verbal language and allows a child to communicate wants and desires.


Here are some communicative gestures to look for and practice with your child:

  • Reaching: Reaching hands to be picked up or reaching towards desired items.

  • Shaking head yes/no: Your child can communicate approval/disapproval with his/her environment.

  • Clapping in excitement: Shows your child is excited and happy!

  • Waving: Waving hello/goodbye for social interactions.

  • Blowing a kiss: Often used when saying goodbye to a loved one.

  • Pointing: Pointing is used to request for items, gain your attention, and show you something in the environment.

  • High five/fist bump: Used to celebrate and interact socially with others.

  • Sign language: Functional signs include “more”, “eat”, “drink”, etc.

  • Song/game routines: Using fingers in “5 Little Monkeys”, imitating movements during “Wheels on the Bus”, “peek-a-boo”, and “patty cake” motions.


Let’s give a big round of applause to learning and using gestures! You can model these gestures at home to help your child develop communication to gain access to needs/wants and to engage with others!




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