The Behavioral and Linguistic Interactions of Specifically Language-Delayed and Normal Boys with Their Mothers
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3 studies were based on subgroups selected from larger pools of either normal children or children with delays in the expression and/or comprehension of language but normal nonverbal abilities. In Study 1, younger (28-50 months) and older (51-68 months) normal (N = 27) and language-delayed (N = 33) boys were observed interacting with their mothers in free play and structured task situations. Although language-delayed children initiated fewer interactions, their responsiveness to maternal interactions, questions, and commands did not differ from that of normal children. Mothers questioned language-delayed children less frequently during tasks but did not differ from mothers of normal children on other measures of interaction, responsiveness, control, or reward strategies. In Study 2, the complexity of maternal speech directed to normal (N = 11) and expressively delayed (N = 11) boys who were matched on the basis of comprehensive skills did not differ. Maternal speech to boys with delays in both language expression and comprehension (N = 11) was significantly less complex. In Study 3, the discrepancy between the speech complexity of mothers and that of their language-delayed children (N = 47) was greatest in younger children with greater expression and comprehension delays, who initiated fewer interactions and proved less responsive to maternal interactions and questions.