Attachment Formation Between Deaf Infants and Their Primary Caregivers: Is Being Deaf a Risk Factor for Insecure Attachment?

  • Nicole Renick ThomsonEmail author
  • Erin A. Kennedy
  • Janet E. Kuebli


The overarching goal of this chapter is to examine attachment formation between deaf infants and their primary caregivers. Our approach is to consider, through integration of attachment theory with the empirical literature on the development of both hearing and deaf infants, whether and how deafness could negatively impact the development of a secure attachment. Beginning with an overview of mainstream attachment theory and its significance for development, characteristics of the developing infant are explored, with a discussion of how congenital deafness plays a role in the infant’s attempts to seek proximity and need fulfillment from caregivers. Next, the discussion focuses on parenting/caregiving behavior and how this may be influenced by the infant’s deafness, followed by examination of some contextual factors that may be important for the developing attachment relationship, such as social support, and how these factors may operate among in deaf infant–hearing caregiver dyads. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the implications of considering attachment processes among the deaf within a risk-resilience framework. Directions for future research are offered throughout the chapter.


Cochlear Implant Joint Attention Attachment Security Insecure Attachment Deaf Child 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Mark Greenberg, PhD for his feedback on an earlier version of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer New York 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole Renick Thomson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Erin A. Kennedy
  • Janet E. Kuebli
  1. 1.University of Missouri – St. Louis’s Missouri Institute of Mental HealthSt. LouisUSA

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