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Mothers Can Help Deaf Children Learn Faster, Study Finds

Update Date: Mar 08, 2013 03:40 PM EST

Mothers can significantly improve their deaf children's learning capabilities, one of the largest studies regarding childhood deafness and parental guidance in the nation concluded. According to the head researcher and psychologist, Alexandra L. Quittner from the University of Miami, mothers who are more sensitive to their deaf children who have cochlear implants, which help them hear, can speed up their children's ability to learn and develop language. This study's findings can be very useful in finding ways for children with hearing loss to better adapt to society by teaching them one of the most important skills, communication.

The research team recruited 188 children between the ages of five months to five-years-old who were dealing with severe hearing loss. The researchers measured several factors, which included mothers' sensitivity, cognitive play, and language stimulation. They observed the interactions between mothers and children in different scenarios, such as free play, puzzle solving, and an art task that had the participants look at five different posters set up like an art gallery. After following these participants for eight years, the researchers found that mothers can influence children's learning greatly.

Quittner concluded that mothers who were more sensitive toward their children decreased the amount of time it took for the children to learn language. Children with sensitive mothers had only a one year delay in developing language, where as the children without this key factor had a 2.5 years delay in their development. This finding is important because it can teach mothers and possibly even fathers on how to help their disabled children. Sensitivity training and guidelines might be some of the key factors in helping deaf children learn language faster.

The National Institutes of Health has already renewed funding for another five years so that the researchers can study the effects of maternal sensitivity on deaf children while they grow older. These results will hopefully show if children's cognitive growth, social development, and academics can benefit from maternal sensitivity as well.

The study was published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

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