Aspects of partner sensitivity to communication behaviors of 24 presymbolic children with developmental disabilities were examined. The children were grouped according to their movement abilities (normal vs. abnormal patterns) and communication status (intentional vs. preintentional). Participating communication partners were those with whom the children interacted on a regular basis and included their mothers, early childhood special educators, and speech-language pathologists. Procedures were developed whereby the partners served as informants in order to provide information regarding (a) recognition of the children's communicative cues and (b) consistency of cue recognition and descriptions across partners. Results indicated wide individual variability in the partners' basic recognition abilities as well as their consistency with each other. Further, the observed variations could not be attributed to the children's movement and communication abilities. It was concluded that sensitivity, as measured in the present investigation, was highly partner-child specific, with some children likely to be exposed to more optimal interactions than others.
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