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‘Early walker’ or ‘Early talker’? The effects of Infant Locomotor status on Infant Language acquisition

Hodgson-King, Hope (2016) ‘Early walker’ or ‘Early talker’? The effects of Infant Locomotor status on Infant Language acquisition. Oxford Brookes University. (Unpublished)


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The link between motor development and language acquisition among infants has been extensively explored. Evidence highlights a significant increase in language acquisition with walking onset as reported by parental questionnaires. However, due to discrepancies observed within parental report measures, this link between language and motor development cannot be determined. The present study, therefore, aimed to verify parental questionnaire validity using infant preferential task measures, further examining the influence of locomotor status (crawler vs. walker) on infant language acquisition. 26 infants’ (aged 9 to 17 months) receptive vocabulary was reported using parental responses to the ‘Oxford Communicative Developmental Inventory’ (CDI) – a vocabulary questionnaire. To verify the CDI validity, infants were tested using a preferential looking paradigm in relation to whether parents had reported words known and unknown. Infants watched eight videos; four pairs of reported known words and four pairs of reported unknown words. Results showed a significant positive relationship between infant vocabulary scores and motor ability. However, the preferential looking task highlighted that parents of walkers were more accurate at reporting words their infant was familiar with than parents of crawlers. This suggests parental discrepancies when estimating words their infant understood to be a consequence of infant locomotor status. The present study, provides primary evidence not only for the links between language acquisition and motor development but also for the accuracy of parental questionnaires and the effects locomotor status has on parental perceptions of infants’ language abilities.

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