City Research Online

Early Pragmatics in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infants

Kelly, C., Morgan, G. ORCID: 0000-0002-9495-1274, Bannard, C. & Matthews, D. (2020). Early Pragmatics in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infants. Pediatrics, 146(Supple), S262-S269. doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-0242e


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: A set of important pragmatic skills emerge during infancy and pave the way for later language learning. It is thought these early social communication skills develop through infant–caregiver interaction. In a microanalysis, we tested whether deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) infants (typically at high risk of reduced access to rich communicative interaction in infancy) are less likely to engage in gestural and vocal pragmatic behaviors.

METHODS: We coded the naturalistic communication of 8 DHH infants who had no additional needs, who were not preterm or low birth weight, whose parents were hearing, monolingual English speakers, and who had spoken English as their primary target language. The frequency of use of 5 types of infant communication known to positively predict later language development (show gestures, give gestures, index-finger pointing, communicative vocalizations, and early word use) was compared with that of 8 typically hearing infants matched for age, sex, and socioeconomic status.

RESULTS: Hearing loss had a significant negative effect on the frequency with which infants engaged in all types of early communication that predict later language development.

CONCLUSIONS: DHH infants are at high risk of delay in the gestural and vocal communicative skills that lay the foundations for later language. Delay in the gestural domain suggests this is not simply a consequence of difficulties in imitating auditory stimuli. There is significant potential to lift DHH infants onto a positive developmental trajectory by supporting caregivers to nurture interaction from the first year.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0). The named authors alone are responsible for the views expressed in this publication.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
R Medicine > RF Otorhinolaryngology
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of 4. EarlyPrag_DHH-infants_Kelly et al 2020-06-04.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Download (300kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login