Mother-child interactions in 2-year-old deaf toddlers with deaf parents, deaf toddlers with hearing parents, and hearing toddlers with hearing parents were explored. Fifteen dyads were videotaped in free play and symbol-infused joint attention tasks. Dyads with hearing parents displayed similar responsiveness/directiveness patterns and spent similar amounts of time in symbol-infused joint attention regardless of child hearing status. Deaf toddlers with hearing mothers, however, produced significantly fewer different words and spent less time in sustained interactions than hearing toddlers. Compared with hearing mothers with deaf toddlers, deaf mothers tended to be more responsive to their toddler’s attention focus, an aspect of maternal responsiveness significantly related to the frequency of sustained interaction. Deaf toddlers with deaf mothers spent significantly less time in symbol-infused joint attention, possibly because of deaf toddlers’ need to divide visual attention between looking at objects and attending to their mother’s language.


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pp. 484-503
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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