The peer-related communicative interactions of nonhandicapped 3- and 4-year-old children as well as a group of 4-year-old mildly developmentally delayed children were investigated in a cross-sectional descriptive study. Adjustments of speakers to companions varying in terms of chronological age and developmental status were of interest, as were comparisons among the three groups. All three groups made adjustments in communicative functions (directives and information statements), interactive style (strong and joint directives), and communications involving affect (disagreements), but only to mildly delayed children. Adjustments to mildly delayed children were more closely related to interpersonal and social status factors than to children's developmental levels. The communicative interactions of mildly delayed children were highly similar to the developmentally matched nonhandicapped group on all measures except for a lower level of speech complexity. Significant differences between 3- and 4-year-old nonhandicapped children were obtained only for measures of speech complexity.
KEY WORDS: peer communicative competence, developmentally delayed children, communicative adaptations
Submitted on March 3, 1988
Accepted on June 8, 1989