This study compared the conversational control of hearing mothers who use auditory-oral communication (A/O) and those who use total communication (TC). Deaf preschool children were grouped into pairs consisting of one A/O and one TC child matched for age, intelligence, and communicative competence. Interaction between the children and their mothers was then evaluated.
The mothers of both A/O and TC children were found to exert similarly high levels of conversational control; however, the TC children exerted more control than the A/O children. For both the A/O and TC groups, maternal conversational style was found to be related to the child's communicative competence. Within the A/O group, maternal style reflected the child's spoken language ability. Within the TC group, maternal style was related to the child's social development.