Young Children's Acquisition of the Movement Aspect in American Sign Language Parental Report Findings Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 1998
Young Children's Acquisition of the Movement Aspect in American Sign Language
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • John D. Bonvillian
    University of Virginia Charlottesville
  • Theodore Siedlecki, Jr.
    University of Virginia Charlottesville
  • Contact author: John D. Bonvillian, Department of Psychology, Gilmer Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903-2477. Email: jdb5b@virginia.edu
Article Information
Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 1998
Young Children's Acquisition of the Movement Aspect in American Sign Language
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1998, Vol. 41, 588-602. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4103.588
History: Received October 31, 1996 , Accepted September 15, 1997
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1998, Vol. 41, 588-602. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4103.588
History: Received October 31, 1996; Accepted September 15, 1997

The acquisition of the movement aspect of American Sign Language signs was examined longitudinally in 9 young children of deaf parents. During monthly home visits, the parents demonstrated on videotape how their children formed the different signs in their lexicons. The parents also demonstrated how they formed or modeled these same signs. Overall, the children correctly produced 61.4% of the movements that were present in the adult sign models. Although the production accuracy of the movement aspect of signs did not improve over the course of the study, the number and complexity of movements produced by the children did increase as they got older and their vocabularies grew in size. Of the different sign movements, contacting action was by far the most frequently produced. The children were also relatively successful in their production of closing action and downward movement. The order of acquisition for the remaining ASL movements, however, was quite variable, with the exception that bidirectional movements tended to be produced more accurately than unidirectional movements. The relationship between children's early rhythmical motor behaviors and the development of sign movements is discussed.

Acknowledgments
This research was aided by Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Grants No. 12-FY90-248 and No. 12-FY92-0571 from the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation to the first author. This article is based in part on a dissertation submitted by the second author to the University of Virginia in fulfillment of one of the requirements for the PhD. The second author was supported by a Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Alumni Dissertation Year Fellowship. During the preparation of this manuscript, the first author was supported by a sesquicentennial associate-ship from the University of Virginia. The authors wish to extend their deepest thanks to the families for their participation in the study. Dawn M. Chandler, Raymond J. Folven, Tatiana Demchuk Guy, Alexandra Schwab, Danelle Scott, Georgina R. Slavoff, and Lisa Yeager assisted in the collection, transcription, coding, and analyses of the data.
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