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Parents’ perspectives on the communication skills of their children with severe disabilities

Stephenson, J., Dowrick, M.,

Academic Literature


The development of communication skills in children with severe disabilities partly depends on the responsivity of partners to all forms of communicative behaviour. This study explored the behaviours that parents interpret as communicative. Parents of 10 children aged 4 to 9 years were interviewed about the forms of communication used by their children. Parents described a wide range of behaviours, including the use of facial expressions, body movements, vocalisations, gestures, word approximations and words, formal and made‐up signs, and object and picture symbols, as communicative behaviours. Parents interpreted many of these behaviours, including challenging behaviours, as communicative, but may need support to encourage presymbolic communicative behaviours. Where formal alternative and augmentative communication had been introduced by schools, parents were not always supportive of its use at home.

Publication information

Journal/Publication : Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability

Location : Australasia

Domain/s: Education, Transport and communication

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