Communication patterns in families with preschool deaf children : a survey
This thesis presents the results of a survey of 113 parents of preschool deaf children living in England and Wales. The sample included 18 deaf parents and 115 hearing parents from all walks of life. All the families had been exposed to parent guidance based on the importance of amplified speech in the education of the deaf. The Lewis Report(1968) recommended that a survey of communication used by parents and very young deaf children should be done. The survey aimed to provide information about modes of communication used by parents and very young deaf children. The data was gathered by systematic interviews, tape recordings and direct observations in people's homes. The results support the hypothesis that a mixture of verbal and nonverbal procedures are typical in such families. 68% of hearing parents used a mixture of pointing, showing objects, esoteric gestures and short simple sentences with the children. Child-parent communication was dominated by physical contact, esoteric gestures and pointing. The data suggest as negative association between speaking and use of natural gestures. 65% of the children did not develop connected speech in spite of much exposure to amplified speech. Parent guidance was evaluated in terms of support for parents, information for parents, direct teaching of parents and child teaching. 57% of mothers and 70% of fathers asked for more child teaching rather than more Information or support for themselves. Hearing parents reported difficulties in holding the child's attention (67%) communication problems (52%) child uncooperative (45%) when attempting to apply guidance principles with their own children. Information from the deaf parents suggests that such problems are greatly reduced by use of a shared sign language in such families. Several ways of improving parent guidance are discussed in the light of these findings.