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Participation of communication partners when supporting physical exploration and instruction by aided communicators

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Gaining knowledge about the world is an essential part of children’s development and a basis for secure attachment. Children with severe motor impairmentwho are unable to explore or have difficulties exploring the environment on their own, have to use language to make partners help them explore the physical world. Motor-impaired children with little or no speech will have to use communication aids.However, in interactions involving aided communicators the naturally speaking communication partner is often taking the lead, giving the aided communicator little opportunity for exploration. One reason may be limited experience with directing the communication partner and partners performing physical actions for young aided communicators. The present study analyses strategies used bynaturally speaking communication partners instructed by aided and by naturally speaking communicators to construct physical models that the partners could not see. The actions includedloading several items into a lorry, dressinga doll, making a string of geometrical shapes, building Lego tower and creating a pattern of domino bricks. Eighteen aided and 18 naturally speaking communicators, aged 5–15 years,were video-taped when instructingnaturally speaking parents, peers, and professionals.Both aided and naturally speaking communicators managed to instruct the partners to construct the models, but there were differencesin the time they used and the strategies they applied. The partners of the aided communicators used more strategies during the constructions and the aided communicators and their communication partners were more dependent on co-construction of meaning.


Munique Massaro    
São Paulo State University

Kristine Stadskleiv    
Oslo University Hospital

Stephen von Tetzchner    
University of Oslo

Débora Deliberato    
São Paulo State University


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