Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education

Committee Chair(s)

Sandra Gillam


Lisa Boyce


Kristina M. Blasier


The importance of adult linguistic responsiveness in facilitating language development in young children is well documented (e.g. Cross & Morris, 1980; Snow, 1994; Tamis-LeMonda, Bornstein, & Baumwell, 2001; Yoder, Warren, McCathern, & Leew, 1998). Research has shown that the use of responsive language by parents in the context of play is associated with greater child language productivity (Girolametto, Hoaken, Weitzman, & van Lieshout, 2000). Rocissano and Yatchmink (1983) found that when mother-child dyads utilized more joint attention, the toddlers demonstrated higher language skills and syntax abilities. Research has also shown that parent-child shared book reading contexts can be very beneficial environments for preschool aged children, as well as children with speech and/or language disorders, and can promote linguistic growth (Kaderavek & Justice, 2002). Parent-child shared book reading environments can be highly facilitative in vocabulary development, conversational participation, and emergent literacy knowledge. Findings suggest that parental behavior analyses during parent-child shared reading interactions with children who are delayed in language, impact the child’s engagement in the interaction (Kaderavek & Justice, 2002).

A total of 56 mother-child dyads participated in the study and were recruited from early intervention programs in the state of Utah. Dyads were given two books to use during the interaction, one wordless and one containing print. Mother-child dyads participated in a 15-minute interaction with books and toys in their home. The interaction was video recorded for later analysis. The verbal exchanges that occurred during the interactions were transcribed orthographically and coded for parental responsiveness using procedures and software from the Systematic Analysis of Language Transcripts (SALT; Miller, 2006).

The results indicated that the mothers were more responsive to children in the wordless book sharing context than the printed book sharing context. Parents were equally directive in both contexts. Maternal responsiveness was moderately to highly correlated with child linguistic productivity measured using mean length of utterance, number of total words, and number of different words in both contexts, highlighting the importance of maternal responsivity for facilitating linguistic productivity in young children with language delays or who are at-risk for developing a language delay.


Publication made available electronically April 3, 2012.