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Factors that enhance/inhibit children with cerebral palsy, to access switches for leisure and communication

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Aim: This presentation (based from outcomes of a Masters thesis) describes the factors that enhance and inhibit children with severe cerebral palsy and complex communication needs to access technology for leisure or communication using switches.

Method: A qualitative methodology using in-depth interviews was used to evaluate the views and beliefs of a purposive sample of eleven therapists who currently work at the Cerebral Palsy Education Centre.

Results: Analysis of the data generated from the interviews revealed four key themes: 1) child traits that affect how a child learns; 2) belief, philosophy and knowledge of therapists; 3) supportive learning environments; and 4) complexities of learning to use switches and a speech-generating device.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that therapists describe the process of teaching children how to use switches and speech-generating devices as a complex. The findings suggest that this complex process may be successful when involving a transdisciplinary team approach, when the child’s self-concept is nurtured by supporting the development of their self-esteem, the development of autonomous communication and resilience is encouraged and when therapists support the parents in assisting their child to learn to use switches to operate speech generating devices.

Author(s):

Fiona Beauchamp    
Cerebral Palsy Education Centre
Australia

Helen Bourke-Taylor    
Australian Catholic University (Melbourne Campus)
Australia

Ted Brown    
Monash University
Australia

 

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