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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Hearing Parents’ Use of Auditory, Visual, and Tactile Cues as a Function of Child Hearing Status

  • Author(s): Gabouer, Allison
  • Oghalai, John
  • Bortfeld, Heather
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License

Parent-child dyads in which the child is deaf but the parent is hearing present a unique opportunity to examine parents’ use of non-auditory cues, particularly vision and touch, to establish communicative intent. This study examines the multimodal communication patterns of hearing parents during a free play task with their hearing (N=9) or deaf (N=9) children. Specifically, we coded parents’ use of multimodal cues in the service of establishing joint attention with their children. Dyad types were compared for overall use of multimodal – auditory, visual, and tactile – attention-establishing cues, and for the overall number of successful and failed bids by a parent for a child’s attention. The relationship between multimodal behaviors on the part of the parent were tracked for whether they resulted in successful or failed initiation of joint attention. We focus our interpretation of the results on how hearing parents differentially accommodate their hearing and deaf children to engage them in joint attention. Findings can inform the development of recommendations for hearing parents of deaf children who are candidates for cochlear implantation regarding communication strategies to use prior to a child’s implantation. Moreover, these findings expand our understanding of how joint attention is established between parents and their preverbal children, regardless of children’s hearing status.

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