Evelien Dirks

The Netherlands
Subtitle Child development within the context of parent-child interaction

Bio Dr. Evelien Dirks is a senior researcher and program director of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Research and Development program of the Dutch Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Child (NSDSK) in Amsterdam the Netherlands and she is affiliated at Utrecht University. Her research focuses on the language, social-emotional, and cognitive development in deaf and hard of hearing children within the context of the parent-child interaction. Next to her research she co-developed books, movies, courses, and apps for children with hearing loss, their parents, and professionals.

Summary Parents are essential in promoting their child’s development. The early parent-child interactions of deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children are related to their language, cognitive and social-emotional development. Parental sensitivity, joint attention and parental language input are the most examined aspects of parent-child interaction in the field of deafness. Higher levels of parental sensitivity and longer episodes of joint attention are related to higher language abilities in DHH children. Parental language input that consists of mental state language and emotion words is related to DHH children’s social-emotional development and more specifically to their Theory of Mind development. Since DHH children are more at risk for delays in spoken language development and Theory of Mind development, parent-focused interventions to foster these aspects of development are of interest.In this session recent studies into parent-child interactions of DHH children in relation to their language and social-emotional development will be presented. In addition, research into parent-focused interventions to promote child’s social-emotional and language and development will be discussed.

In the first presentation, dr. Evelien Dirks will present the results of a study on the parent-child interactions of Dutch toddlers with cochlear implants (CI). In this study the interactions of the children with CIs were characterized by briefer episodes of joint attention and more intrusive behavior of the parents than the interactions of children with typical hearing. In addition, the duration of joint attention and parental non-intrusive behavior was positively related to children’s spoken language abilities. Further, a study of the effect of a video-feedback intervention on the early parent-child interactions in 3–6-month-old DHH babies will be presented. In this study eye gaze and attunement is examined by using State Space Grids analyses. Finally, the potential of using of head-mounted eye tracking in parent-child interaction research will be illustrated.

In the second presentation, Dr. Lizet Ketelaar will present a study on the effect of a Dutch parent intervention to promote parental mental state language and the use of emotion words during daily interactions with 2–4-year-old DHH children. It is examined if parental language input increases after the intervention and if this positively affect children’s Theory of Mind development. During the presentation the intervention will be presented and preliminary results will be discussed.

In the third presentation, Shannon Yuen will discuss a study on the association between children’s emotional functioning and their family system in a sample of 2–6-year-old Chinese DHH children. In this study it was found that DHH children were rated lower on family cohesion and positive emotion expression than the children with typical hearing. In addition, higher levels of family cohesion were related to fewer negative emotion expressions and more parental emotion communication was related to more negative emotion expression.