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The ‘Telling Stories’ Project: Exploring narrative construction between children who use AAC and educational staff

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Aim:
Story-telling is important to child language development and plays a critical role within the English National Curriculum. Children who use AAC have limited opportunities to develop narrative compared to typically developing peers. This presentation will discuss the findings of a PhD research study that explored narrative construction between children using AAC and a natural speaking member of teaching staff.

Method:
A case series design was employed to investigate the narrative interactions between a member of teaching staff and four children: two with cerebral palsy, one with autism and one with a genetic condition. Video capture was used to record one personal and one fictional narrative on four separate data collection sessions. Three dependent variables were investigated: communicative modality, linguistic move-type and linguistic complexity.

Results:
Findings revealed multimodal contributions from all participants. Speech was the dominant modality for all teaching staff, but modality use was varied for the aided speakers. Teaching staff assumed a dominant, initiating role, using frequent directives, such as instructions and questions. These were followed by response moves from the children using AAC. However, some miscommunication between interlocutors was also recorded.

Conclusion:
Narrative interaction followed the educational initiation-response-feedback framework, although there was evidence of teaching staff and children co-constructing narrative together. The presentation will highlight implications, such as the need for scaffolding within education to support children who use AAC to access narrative. Illustration of the challenges associated with narrative production for children who use AAC and relevance of the communication partner’s role will also be reviewed.

Author(s):

Pippa Bellamy    
University of East Anglia, Communication Technology Education Centre (CTEC)
United States

Karen Bunning    
University of East Anglia
United Kingdom

 

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