Journal Article

Learning to Look in the Right Place: A Comparison of Attentional Behavior in Deaf Children With Deaf and Hearing Mothers

Margaret Harris and Heather Mohay

in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Volume 2, issue 2, pages 95-103
Published in print January 1997 | ISSN: 1081-4159
Published online January 1997 | e-ISSN: 1465-7325 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.deafed.a014316
Learning to Look in the Right Place: A Comparison of Attentional Behavior in Deaf Children With Deaf and Hearing Mothers

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Eleven 18-month-old children with profound prelingual hearing loss were video-recorded in a free-play session with their mothers. Five of the mothers were profoundly deaf and fluent users of British Sign Language (BSL) or Auslan. The other six were hearing and had enrolled in a signing program. Ten-minute segments from each session were analyzed to determine the number of switches in attention shown by each child. Switches in attention were subdivided into three categories: spontaneous (where the child spontaneously looked to the mother); responsive (where the child responded to some maternal action such as moving an object); and elicited (where the mother made a direct attempt to gain the child's attention). Failed attempts to gain attention were also noted. A comparison of deaf and hearing mothers revealed no difference in the proportion of spontaneous or responsive switches in attention shown by their children. Responsive switches were by far the most frequent category for both groups, but these most commonly focused on objects and did not provide an opportunity for maternal signing. Successful perception of signing typically followed from spontaneous or elicited attentional switches. Deaf mothers were generally more insistent on their children turning to look at them, and they were more successful in eliciting attentional switches although they also had more failed attempts. These overall differences between the two groups were overshadowed by large individual differences within the groups. Within the sample there were both deaf and hearing mothers who achieved sucessful signed communication with their children.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Education ; Linguistics ; Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs

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