Purpose: This study examined the gesture use of 14-month-old toddlers with hearing loss (HL) and mothers’ responses to children’s early gesture use. Comparisons were made to symbolic language and to dyads in which the toddler had normal hearing (NH). Method: Participants were 25 mother–toddler dyads in which the child had HL and a socioeconomic-status matched group of 23 mother–toddler dyads in which the child had NH. Thirty-minute mother–child interactions were video-recorded, transcribed for spoken language, sign, and gesture use, and coded for maternal responses to children’s gestures. Mothers also reported on children’s gestural and spoken language abilities.Results: Toddlers with HL used gesture similarly to their peers with NH, but demonstrated delays in spoken language. Spoken language and gesture were not significantly related for either group. Hearing levels were related to spoken language, but not gesture for the HL group. Maternal and child gesture were only related for signing mothers. Mothers of children with HL were more likely than their counterparts to provide no response to children’s gestures. Conclusion: Although toddlers’ gesture abilities remain intact in the presence of HL, mothers were not maximally responsive to those gestures and thus should be coached to increase their provision of contingent feedback.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Linguistics and Language
- Speech and Hearing