Institute of Special Education, Russian Academy of Education,
Background. Special features of communicative development in children with Down Syndrome are reported to correlate with intellectual disability, while their mothers’ communication with them is considered to be a reaction to difficulties in building rapport with the child. The cultural-historical approach to human psychological and mental development (Vygotsky, 1982) supports research into the contribution of maternal behavior to the development of communication in children with Down Syndrome.
Objective. To analyze the relationship between the development of responsive and initiative communicative actions in children with Down Syndrome and features of maternal communicative behavior.
Design. The subjects were 15 pairs of mothers and their children diagnosed with “trisomy 21, Down Syndrome, full (or complete) type of trisomy” and 18 pairs of mothers and their typically developing children. The children in the experimental group are from 18 to 36 months old, the age of mothers is from 24 to 41 years. e children in the control group are from 18 to 36 months old; the mothers’ age is from 20 to 44 years. The research included collection of video data and expert video recording analysis. Communication was recorded of mothers and their children without a toy, and then with a toy. Videos were made three times, every 1.5 or 2 weeks, and each session lasted 20 minutes; two videos were analyzed, excluding the first one. The analysis was performed by three experts — researchers at the Federal State Budget Scientific Institution “Institute of Special Education of the Russian Academy of Education” — calculating the frequency of the children’s responsive and initiative communicative actions. A qualitative analysis of the mothers’ communicative behavior was conducted: Repeated patterns of the mothers’ communicative behavior in both groups were identified, and the number of mothers with these communicative actions was calculated.
Results. Mothers’ actions that correlated with the development of responsive and initiative communicative actions in typically developing children were identified, including: the adult caregiver addresses her child directly and personally; she pays attention to the child’s actions and supports them; she plays with the child as with an equal. The communicative behavior of mothers of children with Down Syndrome did not differ from that of the mothers of typically developing children in terms of the behavioral characteristics listed above. Thedevelopment of responsive and initiative communicative actions in children with Down Syndrome correlates with a greater number of characteristics of maternal communicative behavior, such as: continuing the communication despite approximate, uncertain, or contradictory signals from the child; creating vivid and positive emotional support for interactions; and keeping in mind the child’s language and motor limitations.
Conclusion. Our research suggests that for the development of communication in children with Down Syndrome, maternal communicative actions that correlate with the development of communication in typically developing children are not sufficient.
Keywords: development of communication in children, communicative behavior of children, communicative behavior of the mother in communication with a child, children with Down Syndrome