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Study of two mothers’ verbal interaction with their language-delayed and normal language-learning children Fleming, Amy


This paper reports the findings of an observational study of two family groups consisting of a mother and her two young sons. In each family, the older sons aged 4-5 and 4-9, were language-delayed despite a lack of apparent intellectual or physiological deficit, and the younger sons, aged 2-6 and 2-11, appeared to be acquiring language normally. Over a one month period, data collection took place in three free play contexts in the following order: 1. The mother interacting with her normal child. 2. The mother interacting with her language-delayed child. 3. The mother interacting with both children together. For each family the thirty minutes of audio-taped data collected in each of the three contexts were analyzed in terms of a number of physical performance, structural, and functional parameters. In all contexts the mothers' speech styles were characteristically differentiated from each other. Some evidence supports the hypothesis that mothers make differential assumptions about the verbal input needs of their language-delayed versus their normal language-learning children.

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