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Supporting Children With Severe-to-Profound Learning Difficulties and Complex Communication Needs to Make Their Views Known: Observation Tools and Methods

Greathead, Scot; Yates, Rhiannon; Hill, Vivian; Kenny, Lorcan; Croydon, Abigail; Pellicano, Elizabeth

doi: 10.1097/TLD.0000000000000096
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All children have the right to shape decisions that influence their lives. Yet, children with severe-to-profound intellectual disabilities and complex communication needs are often marginalized from this process. Here, we examined the utility of a set of tools incorporating ethnographic and structured observational methods with three such children. We specifically examined the communicative behavior that these children used to share their views and the ways in which adults recognized and responded to them. The three case studies illustrate (1) that these children have ways to make their intentions known, even though they may use idiosyncratic ways of doing so; (2) that adults play important roles in supporting their communicative bids; and (3) that this set of tools was sufficiently sensitive to subtle and fine-grained nonverbal cues that might otherwise be overlooked.

Centre for Research in Autism and Education, UCL Institute of Education, University College London, U.K. (Messrs Greathead and Kenny, and Mss Yates, Hill, Croydon, and Pellicano); and School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia (Ms Pellicano).

Corresponding Author: Scot Greathead, Centre for Research in Autism and Education, UCL Institute of Education, University College London, U.K. (scot@speechtherapyservices.co.uk).

This work was funded by the Office of The Children's Commissioner for England U.K. Research at the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE) is supported by The Clothworkers' Foundation and Pears Foundation.

The authors have indicated that they have no financial and no nonfinancial relationships to disclose.

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