This study investigated prosodic and structural characteristics of infant-directed speech to hearing-impaired infants as they gain hearing experience with a cochlear implant over a 12-month period of time. Mothers were recorded during a play interaction with their HI infants (N = 27, mean age 18.4 months) at 3, 6, and 12 months postimplantation. Two separate control groups of mothers with age-matched normal-hearing infants (NH-AM) (N = 21, mean age 18.1 months) and hearing experience-matched normal-hearing infants (NH-EM) (N = 24, mean age 3.1 months) were recorded at three testing sessions. Mothers produced less exaggerated pitch characteristics, a larger number of syllables per utterance, and faster speaking rate when interacting with NH-AM as compared to HI infants. Mothers also produced more syllables and demonstrated a trend suggesting faster speaking rate in speech to NH-EM relative to HI infants. Age-related modifications included decreased pitch standard deviation and increased number of syllables in speech to NH-AM infants and increased number of syllables in speech to HI and NH-EM infants across the 12-month period. These results suggest that mothers are sensitive to the hearing status of their infants and modify characteristics of infant-directed speech over time.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology