Production and comprehension of gesture emerge early and are key to subsequent language development in typical development. Compared to typically developing (TD) children, children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) exhibit difficulties and/or differences in gesture production. However, we do not yet know if gesture production either shows similar patterns to gesture comprehension across different ages and learners, or alternatively, lags behind gesture comprehension, thus mimicking a pattern akin to speech comprehension
and production. In this study, we focus on the gestures produced and comprehended by a group of young TD children and children with ASD—comparable in language ability—with the goal to identify whether gesture production and comprehension follow similar patterns between ages and between learners. We elicited production of gesture in a semi-structured parent–child play and comprehension of gesture in a structured experimenter-child play across two studies. We tested whether young TD children (ages 2–4) follow a similar trajectory in their production and comprehension of gesture (Study 1) across ages, and if so, whether this alignment remains similar for verbal children with ASD (Mage = 5 years), comparable to TD children in language ability (Study 2). Our results provided evidence for
similarities between gesture production and comprehension across ages and across learners, suggesting that comprehension and production of gesture form a largely integrated system of communication.