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Infant Behav Dev. 2013 Feb;36(1):71-83. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2012.11.001. Epub 2012 Dec 20.

Development of early communication skills in the first two years of life.

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Department of Psychiatry, Nijmegen Centre for Evidence-based Practice, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, The Netherlands.


The first two years of life is a crucially important period for the development of communication skills. In this study joint attention and language development were monthly assessed between 8 and 24 months of age in a sample of 23 typically developing children to establish the developmental trajectory of specific joint attention skills, to investigate the developmental interrelations of these different joint attention skills with vocabulary size, and to examine whether the order of development of following and directing attention influences the development of other early communication skills such as language. All joint attention skills emerged between 8 and 15 months of age and responsive joint attention skills tend to emerge before initiative joint attention. Early joint attention skills influenced later language development, but not the other way around. Children in whom directing attention with gaze alternation developed early (in age or order) showed a relatively larger early vocabulary growth. A fine grained mapping of the normal development of early communication skills can be helpful in the early detection of abnormalities in these skills.

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