Communication skills and quality of life aspects for the deafblind child: An investigation of communication partner perceptions
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: Deafblindness has a pervasive impact upon quality of life, particularly with regard to communication. Challenging behaviours and limited opportunities for participation characterise the deafblind experience in existing literature. Specific investigation of whether improvements in communication skills result in improvements in quality of life for deafblind individuals is scarce. Aims: To uncover themes relating to communication and quality of life aspects for the deafblind child, with focussed examination of whether improvements in communication skills improve quality of life aspects of social and emotional functioning–in particular, challenging behaviour and social participation. Methods & Procedures: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 4 participants. Data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Emergent themes relating to communication and quality of life were examined with regard to their impact upon the deafblind individual. Outcomes & Results: Analysis revealed four Superordinate themes pertaining to communication and quality of life. All participants had experienced situations where improvements in deafblind individuals' communication skills resulted in improved social and emotional functioning and therefore quality of life. Deafblindness-related issues were identified as greater barriers to participation than environmental issues. Conclusions & Implications: Improvements in communication skills result in improved quality of life for the deafblind child. This is contingent upon the skill of the communication partner and the richness of the communication environment. Maximising independence, choice and inclusion are all beneficial to quality of life, and are all reliant upon effective communication. There currently exist no specific guidelines for Speech and Language Therapy intervention within the deafblind population; based on the findings of this study a model of intervention is proposed to begin addressing this gap in service provision.
B.Sc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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