Communicating with Signed Language: Hearing Mothers and Deaf Infants.Report as inadecuate

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This study examined the expressive communication and language of seven hearing mothers and their deaf infants. Total communication intervention programming was begun before 9 months of age, and communication behaviors were observed during free play when infants were 12 and 18 months old. Other data were obtained in structured interviews with mothers. Results indicated that frequency of maternal signing was correlated at 12-month and 18-month sessions; patterns of frequent or infrequent signing production were evident within several months of entry into programming. Mothers who signed most often reported that other adults (fathers, other relatives, friends) were also learning and using signs. Infants' 18-month sign production was correlated with mothers' production at 12 and 18 months. Infants whose mothers signed approximately 40 percent of 12-month utterances began expressive signing at 13 months. The study concluded that even somewhat limited maternal sign production allowed infants to acquire first expressive signs at a normal age, and that infants whose caregivers are not signing after several months of intervention programming are at very high risk for difficult and delayed language acquisition. (Author/JDD)

Descriptors: Communication Skills, Deafness, Early Experience, Early Intervention, Expressive Language, Infants, Interpersonal Communication, Intervention, Language Acquisition, Mothers, Parent Child Relationship, Parent Influence, Performance Factors, Preschool Education, Sign Language, Total Communication

Author: Spencer, Patricia E.


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