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Patterns of communicative interaction between a child with severe speech and physical impairments and her caregiver during a mealtime activity

Journal article
Authors Ulrika Ferm
Elisabeth Ahlsén
Eva Björck-Åkesson
Published in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability
Volume 37
Issue 1
Pages 11-26
ISSN 1366-8250
Publication year 2012
Published at Centre of Interdisciplinary Research/Cognition/Information. SSKKII (2010-)
Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Pages 11-26
Language en
Keywords AAC, mealtime interaction, disability, communication aid
Subject categories Communication Studies


Background Interaction between caregivers and children with severe impairments is closely related to the demands of daily activities. This study examines the relationship between interaction and the routine mealtime activity at home. Method Patterns of interaction between a child (aged 6 years and 6 months) with severe speech and physical impairments and her caregiver (focus dyad) and a child without impairments (aged 6 years and 6 months) and her caregiver (comparison dyad) were analysed using video recordings and activity-based communication analysis. Results The focus dyad's interaction was unaided. The dyad did not use the Blissymbol board but communicated using words, vocalisations, word approximations, and body communication. Interaction in the focus dyad included relatively few pauses and frequent interchanges of short and sometimes simultaneous communicative contributions. Strong relations between patterns of interaction and immediate activity management goals such as assisting with eating, eating and drinking were found and compared for the two dyads. Results were discussed with regard to child development and communication intervention. Conclusions The focus dyad showed interactive efficiency and the fulfilment of goals relating to basic understanding and closeness, but mainly with regard to immediate mealtime issues. The comparison child and caregiver were more independent in the activity which made it possible for them to reach more extensive, and from a child perspective, age-adequate goals than the focus dyad.

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