Interaction of language-delayed children with peers and with their mothers during play

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Coon, Joy M.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology
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Language acquisition begins when a child is born and continues to develop as the child grows and learns more about his world and interacts with other children his age. Children who are language-delayed, however, often do not interact with their environment or with their peers in the same way that normal language-learning children do. Research is needed to determine the interactions between the language-delayed child and the normal language-learning child to understand better how the language-delayed child communicates with others. The manner in which mothers of language-delayed children communicate with their children also needs to be researched. To determine how language-delayed children communicate, the present study attempted to show how they interact with a familiar or an unfamiliar person, types of play language-delayed children use, and how they interact with their mothers.Language-delayed children have been shown to make no attempt to initiate conversation when with another child (Siegel, 1985). This finding was contradicted by Terrell et al. (1984). Terrell et al. found that their group of language-delayed children performed just as well as mean that language-delayed children do not have normal language-learning children when using the Symbolic Play Test. Terrell et al. found that the "discrepancy between symbolic skills demonstrated in play and the language of impaired children can be found in the direction of their play activities" (p. 427). This may communication skills to interact with others or it may be that there are fewer demands placed on language-delayed children. The previous information investigated how language-delayed children interact with others. The manner in which mothers interact with their language-delayed children will be discussed next. Parents have been shown to use fewer demands and fewer questions when communicating with their language-delayed children (Friel-Patti, 1984). Wanska et al (1985) found that the number of utterances per/minute for the mothers ranged from 4.3 to 17.7, while their children's utterances ranged from 4.5 to 19.3 per/minute. They also found that as the children increased in age and their mean length of utterance increased, both mothers and children made fewer utterances. When Wanska and Bedronsian (1984) looked at length of talking as measured in turn per minute they found that the mothers' average length ranged from 1.3 to 2.9 turns per minute and that the children's average length ranged from 1.2 to 3.0 turns per minute. They found that the mothers dominated most of the floor time (time spent talking to the child).These findings suggested that language-delayed children were unable to initiate conversation or maintain a topic while playing. The following chapter will look at how children interact with a familiar or an unfamiliar person, what types or play language-delayed children use, and how language-delayed children interact with their mothers.