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Communicative strategies of young aided communicators when describing visual scenes to different partners

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Background and Aim: The onset non-speech expressive language modes, such as the use of a communication aid, is dependent on the skills and attitudes of people in the child’s environment. The objective of this study was to investigate the communication strategies of young aided communicators while describing of visual scenes with different partners.
Method: Eight aided and eight naturally speaking communicators, aged 5–15 years, described visual scenes on drawings to parents, teachers and peers, who could not see the drawings.
Results: Both groups used different elements. The aided communicators used different strategies with the partners. They used fewer graphic symbols with the parents and more symbolic eye pointing and vocalization. When the scenes were unusual or surrealistic, they used more graphic symbols. The comparison group’s descriptions contained more elements, a larger vocabulary and more sentences.
Conclusions: The aided communicators relied more on “home communication strategies” with the parents than with the teachers and peers. When the parents could not rely on well-known scenarios, the aided communicators used more formal communication strategies. The findings suggest that relaying information unknown to the partner about complex and unusual visual scenes may enhance the transition to verbal means in aided communicators’ interactions with parents, and thus their expressive language in general.


Vanessa Aparecida Peluccio de Azevedo    
Graduate Student in Special Education/Unesp-Brazil

Department of Special Education/ UNESP-Brazil

Stephen von Tetzchner    
Department of Psychology-University of Oslo


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