The expressive communication of hearing mothers and deaf infants

Am Ann Deaf. 1993 Jul;138(3):275-83. doi: 10.1353/aad.2012.0414.


This paper describes the expressive communication and language of seven hearing mothers and their deaf infants. Severe-profound or profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss was identified in the infants by 7 months of age; intervention programs emphasizing use of signing systems plus speech were started before 9 months of age. Communication behaviors during free play were observed when the infants were 12 and 18 months old. The frequency of the mothers' signing at 12 and 18 months was significantly correlated: mothers' patterns of frequent or infrequent signing were evident within several months of their infants' entry into programming. Mothers who signed most frequently reported that other adults (father and other relatives, friends) were also learning and using signs. Frequency of sign production by the infants at 18 months correlated significantly with frequency of sign production by the mothers when the infants were 12 and 18 months. The mothers' reports of their typical frequency of signing and of the sign lexicon size of their infants failed to correlate significantly with observed performance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child Language
  • Communication Disorders / etiology*
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / complications*
  • Hearing*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Development Disorders / etiology
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Sign Language
  • Vocabulary