Mounting evidence points to joint attention as a mediating variable in children's adaptive behavior development. Joint attention in interactions between hearing mothers and congenitally deaf (n = 27) and hearing (n = 29) children, ages 18–36 months, was examined. All deaf children had severe to profound hearing loss. Mother-child interactions were coded for maternally initiated and child-initiated success rates in establishing joint attention; mothers completed ratings of their children's adaptive behavior. Hearing mother–deaf child dyads had significantly lower maternally initiated success rates. No significant between-group differences on child-initiated success rates were shown. Maternal ratings of adaptive behavior were significantly lower for deaf children, and related positively and significantly to both child-initiated and maternally initiated success rates. The findings suggest that mother-child interactions that are low in successful establishment of joint attention might mediate the development of socioemotional problems evident in deaf children with hearing families.


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pp. 15-29
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