February 26-28, 2017 • Atlanta, GA


  |  Dinner Dialogues Build Language in Deaf Children

Dinner Dialogues Build Language in Deaf Children

The majority of hearing children are brought up learning the native language of their parents or family members. While partaking in communication, it includes both verbal (spoken) and nonverbal language or cues (e.g., body language or facial expression). Since ninety percent of deaf children, are born into hearing families who use spoken language, language acquisition is different. When there is lack of turn taking between the deaf child and the parent(s), there is limited exposure to the language experiences that a parent wants for the deaf child. By using a visual language, American Sign Language (ASL), with the deaf child, it provides multiple advantages. Engaging in dialogues with the deaf child is crucial to acquire language. Following and expanding on the deaf child’s interest will also build their language skills and provide them world knowledge, especially during dinner table dialogues. These opportunities allow the deaf child to continue acquiring ASL naturally and quickly, which in turn improves parent’s signing skills. Meaningful communication, while providing a fully accessible language, between the deaf child and the family creates a bond that supports the structure of a family unit. Dinner time should be an opportunity to have these rich conversations between family members. However, not every deaf child is included in dinner conversations with their family, and often miss out on jokes or sarcasm. These interactions are known as the “dinner table syndrome.” Having dialogues where everyone participates and converses freely stimulates language and intellectual growth for the deaf child. The fluency of communication and language in the deaf child’s family should be balanced between all members to allow everyone to understand each other with minimal frustrations.

  • Understand the importance of using a visual language (ASL) to enhance dialogues between a deaf child and parent(s).
  • Understand the definition of dinner table syndrome and its application to deaf children.
  • Understand the importance of turn taking in dialogues between the deaf child and family members to build language and world knowledge.

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David Meek (), Lamar University, dmeek1@lamar.edu;
David R. Meek is a doctoral student in Deaf Studies and Deaf Education (DSDE) at Lamar University.  Prior to David’s doctoral work at Lamar, he received a Bachelor of Science in Deaf Education and a Master of Arts in Mild Intervention from Ball State University.  David has twelve years of experience as a teacher in both Deaf Education and Special Education, working with students with various degrees of disabilities.  He most recently taught at Indiana School for the Deaf working with students with additional disabilities. David currently works as a Field Experience Supervisor and ASL Instructor in DSDE at Lamar University.


Financial - No relevant financial relationship exist.

Nonfinancial - No relevant nonfinancial relationship exist.