Background: Variability in the vocabulary outcomes of children with cochlear implants (CIs) is partially explained by child-directed speech (CDS) characteristics. Yet, relatively little is known about whether and how mothers adapt their lexical and prosodic characteristics to the child's hearing status (before and after implantation, and compared with groups with normal hearing (NH)) and how important they are in affecting vocabulary development in the first 12 months of hearing experience. Aims: To investigate whether mothers of children with CIs produce CDS with similar lexical and prosodic characteristics compared with mothers of age-matched children with NH, and whether they modify these characteristics after implantation. In addition, to investigate whether mothers' CDS characteristics predict children's early vocabulary skills before and after implantation. Methods & procedures: A total of 34 dyads (17 with NH, 17 with children with CIs; ages = 9-32 months), all acquiring Italian, were involved in the study. Mothers' and children's lexical quantity (tokens) and variety (types), mothers' prosodic characteristics (pitch range and variability), and children's vocabulary skills were assessed at two time points, corresponding to before and 1 year post-CI activation for children with CIs. Children's vocabulary skills were assessed using parent reports; lexical and prosodic characteristics were observed in semi-structured mother-child interactions. Outcomes & results: Results showed that mothers of children with CIs produced speech with similar lexical quantity but lower lexical variety, and with increased pitch range and variability, than mothers of children with NH. Mothers generally increased their lexical quantity and variety and their pitch range between sessions. Children with CIs showed reduced expressive vocabulary and lower lexical quantity and variety than their peers 12 months post-CI activation. Mothers' prosodic characteristics did not explain variance in children's vocabulary skills; their lexical characteristics predicted children's early vocabulary and lexical outcomes, especially in the NH group, but were not related to later language development. Conclusions & implications: Our findings confirm previous studies on other languages and support the idea that the lexical characteristics of mothers' CDS have a positive effect on children's early measures of vocabulary development across hearing groups, whereas prosodic cues play a minor role. Greater input quantity and quality may assist children in the building of basic language model representations, whereas pitch cues may mainly serve attentional and emotional processes. Results emphasize the need for additional longitudinal studies investigating the input received from other figures surrounding the child and its role for children's language development. What this paper adds: What is already known on the subject Mothers' CDS is thought to facilitate and support language acquisition in children with various language developmental trajectories, including children with CIs. Because children with CIs are at risk for language delays and have acoustic processing limitations, their mothers may have to produce a lexically simpler but prosodically richer input, compared to mothers of children with NH. Yet, the literature reports mixed findings and no study to our knowledge has concurrently addressed the role of mothers' lexical and prosodic characteristics for children's vocabulary development before implantation and in the first 12 months of hearing experience. What this study adds to the existing knowledge The study shows that mothers of children with CIs produce input of similar quantity but reduced variety, and with heightened pitch characteristics, compared to mothers of children with NH. There was also a general increase in mothers' lexical quantity and variety, and in their pitch range, between sessions. Only their lexical characteristics predicted children's early vocabulary skills. Their lexical variety predicted children's expressive vocabulary and lexical variety only in the NH group. What are the practical and clinical implications of this work? These findings expand our knowledge about the effects of maternal input and may contribute to the improvement of early family-centred intervention programmes for supporting language development in children with CIs.

The role of lexical and prosodic characteristics of mothers' child-directed speech for the early vocabulary development of Italian children with cochlear implants

Persici, Valentina
;
2024

Abstract

Background: Variability in the vocabulary outcomes of children with cochlear implants (CIs) is partially explained by child-directed speech (CDS) characteristics. Yet, relatively little is known about whether and how mothers adapt their lexical and prosodic characteristics to the child's hearing status (before and after implantation, and compared with groups with normal hearing (NH)) and how important they are in affecting vocabulary development in the first 12 months of hearing experience. Aims: To investigate whether mothers of children with CIs produce CDS with similar lexical and prosodic characteristics compared with mothers of age-matched children with NH, and whether they modify these characteristics after implantation. In addition, to investigate whether mothers' CDS characteristics predict children's early vocabulary skills before and after implantation. Methods & procedures: A total of 34 dyads (17 with NH, 17 with children with CIs; ages = 9-32 months), all acquiring Italian, were involved in the study. Mothers' and children's lexical quantity (tokens) and variety (types), mothers' prosodic characteristics (pitch range and variability), and children's vocabulary skills were assessed at two time points, corresponding to before and 1 year post-CI activation for children with CIs. Children's vocabulary skills were assessed using parent reports; lexical and prosodic characteristics were observed in semi-structured mother-child interactions. Outcomes & results: Results showed that mothers of children with CIs produced speech with similar lexical quantity but lower lexical variety, and with increased pitch range and variability, than mothers of children with NH. Mothers generally increased their lexical quantity and variety and their pitch range between sessions. Children with CIs showed reduced expressive vocabulary and lower lexical quantity and variety than their peers 12 months post-CI activation. Mothers' prosodic characteristics did not explain variance in children's vocabulary skills; their lexical characteristics predicted children's early vocabulary and lexical outcomes, especially in the NH group, but were not related to later language development. Conclusions & implications: Our findings confirm previous studies on other languages and support the idea that the lexical characteristics of mothers' CDS have a positive effect on children's early measures of vocabulary development across hearing groups, whereas prosodic cues play a minor role. Greater input quantity and quality may assist children in the building of basic language model representations, whereas pitch cues may mainly serve attentional and emotional processes. Results emphasize the need for additional longitudinal studies investigating the input received from other figures surrounding the child and its role for children's language development. What this paper adds: What is already known on the subject Mothers' CDS is thought to facilitate and support language acquisition in children with various language developmental trajectories, including children with CIs. Because children with CIs are at risk for language delays and have acoustic processing limitations, their mothers may have to produce a lexically simpler but prosodically richer input, compared to mothers of children with NH. Yet, the literature reports mixed findings and no study to our knowledge has concurrently addressed the role of mothers' lexical and prosodic characteristics for children's vocabulary development before implantation and in the first 12 months of hearing experience. What this study adds to the existing knowledge The study shows that mothers of children with CIs produce input of similar quantity but reduced variety, and with heightened pitch characteristics, compared to mothers of children with NH. There was also a general increase in mothers' lexical quantity and variety, and in their pitch range, between sessions. Only their lexical characteristics predicted children's early vocabulary skills. Their lexical variety predicted children's expressive vocabulary and lexical variety only in the NH group. What are the practical and clinical implications of this work? These findings expand our knowledge about the effects of maternal input and may contribute to the improvement of early family-centred intervention programmes for supporting language development in children with CIs.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11576/2739131
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