Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Talk to text: an application of discourse analysis to text messaging in adolescents with social communication disorders
by Bower, Wendy K., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2015, 143; 10000090
Abstract (Summary)

This study uses conversational analysis to identify how adolescents with pragmatic difficulties use text messaging to establish friendship networks. Individuals diagnosed with Social Communication Disorders (SCD) have normal intelligence, however reportedly exhibit difficulties interacting in face-to-face social situations due to differences in their interpretation of both social and linguistic cues. These miscues often lead to problems in deciphering subtle linguistic meaning indicators or in decoding physical concomitants of communication signaling nuances of conversations in friendship networks. Text messaging eliminates meaning-making social cues and subtle linguistic markers present in face-to-face interactions. With text messaging becoming a ubiquitous form of interaction for adolescents, it remains to be seen how individuals diagnosed with SCD use texting to establish and maintain social practices. This dissertation study examined text messaging use in a group of adolescents diagnosed with SCD. Six adolescents collected and saved text messages for a period of 1-4 months. Using a conversational analysis framework, texts were parsed into conversational units and coded for specific communicative indices that marked communicative competencies. In addition, individual interviews with adolescent participants and their parents served to contextualize the analysis of the collected text conversations. Results indicated that the participants showed communicative competencies that belie their language use in face-to-face interactions. These adolescents, though they all report that they prefer face-to-face interactions, effectively used text messaging as a medium for maintaining social relationships, and all participants related that friendships are enhanced when they have access to friends via phone. The adolescents in this study used diverse language styles to communicate with different people. Instances of creative language found throughout their texting bodes well for these adolescents diagnosed with SDC, as success in this context may further encourage other forms of both written and verbal language use. If the creative nature of the texting sphere is exploited, and individuals show communicative competence in this medium, we need to redefine competence and recognize more instances of appropriate communication with peers, thus expanding the social networking of these individuals in meaningful ways. Additionally, culturally established categories framing this particular disorder should be reconstructed to constitute these individuals as capable communicators.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bower, Wendy K.
Commitee: Collins, James P., Johnston, Peter H., Sheehy, Margaret R.
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Reading Literacy Teaching and Learning
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 77/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Speech therapy, Technical Communication
Keywords: Adolescents, Autism, Social communication disorders, Text messaging
Publication Number: 10000090
ISBN: 978-1-339-40588-9
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