Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Communication Partner Training for Parents of Children with Communication Disorders: A Participatory Action Research Study
by Kaniamattam, Monica, Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2018, 238; 10814914
Abstract (Summary)

Parents and speech language pathologist (SLP) typically establish and maintain hierarchical relationships which ascribe excessive authority to the therapist, thus limiting the possibilities for dialogue and mutual learning. The SLPs discussions of children’s communication development often fail to acknowledge the contributions that parents can make, based on their knowledge and experiences with children at home. Neglecting parents’ voices in communication intervention means the parents’ critical role in supporting children’s communication development is overlooked. By investigating with parents their perspectives on children’s communication facilitation and social interaction experiences in and out of the home environment, this study sought to understand the relationships between parent’s beliefs and practices for communication facilitation and to model processes by which parents and SLP’s develop a reciprocal dialogue. This study draws insights into how parent initiated communication facilitation and social interaction for children with complex communication needs (CCNs) in a rural rehabilitation center in Kerala can be improved through examining a collaboratively created communication partner training program for parents and used a participatory action research approach centered on cooperative inquiry. Six parents of children younger than 6.5 years with CCNs, joined me in a six-month long co-investigation. Individually and collectively we raised questions, observed, documented, and reflected on communication facilitation strategies in and out of the homes. Weekly meetings were held involving all the participants and occasionally with individual families. Data sources included research diaries written by myself about parent’s experiences, audiotapes of meetings, participants’ reflective journal entries, and children’s communication profiles constructed jointly by parents and the researcher. When children’s communication was documented based on children’s communication at home, we observed a wide variety that was not assessed in the standard communication assessments. The study’s findings provide evidence that parents can be a rich resource for SLPs and researchers. The data reveal the perceptions and practices of parents for communication facilitation. It also shows some of the real-life challenges for communication and interaction facilitation. Parents raised issues about current practices in communication interventions, misunderstandings about speech therapy, and training/teaching and learning relationships. This suggests that organizing parent training programs based on western models would be inappropriate. Through the parent practitioner research process, we were able to develop and introduce ‘conversation books’ as a way for viewing the child as a communication partner and to provide more interaction opportunities for the children viewed as ‘sick child.’ This process provides further evidence for the importance of including parents’ knowledge and experience in the design of effective learning contexts for their children. These findings suggest that beyond the currently existent routine clinician-parent meeting (5 minute or lesser sessions, of giving instructions to parents), alternative structures for dialogue with practitioners are needed that allow for parents’ critical reflection and substantive contributions to the children’s communication intervention plans.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Oxley, Judith D., Damico, Jack S.
Commitee: Damico, Holy, Nelson, Ryan L.
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: Applied Language and Speech Sciences
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-B 80/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Speech therapy, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Communication partner training, Complex communication needs, Language intervention, Low- and middle-income (LAMI) countries, Parents, Participatory action research
Publication Number: 10814914
ISBN: 978-1-392-04140-6
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