Evaluation of language and communication skills in adult key word signing users with intellectual disability: Advantages of a narrative task (short summary)


Narrative skills are those skills needed to tell stories or recount things that have happened. The ability to use narrative depends on a wide range of language, communication and cognitive skills. The use of narrative can be a way of gathering information about language content and form in a short period of time but in the main this type of task has not been used with adults with intellectual disability (ID), particularly those who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Many adults with ID who use AAC use key word signing (KWS), meaning they use spoken language with the most important words being supported by manual signs. This group have generally been excluded from research into narrative tasks.

People who scored poorly on standard language tests often managed to express themselves at a higher level than expected when using AAC, so a narrative task might give a better indication of functional use of language with KWS than standard tests.

The authors developed a narrative task to gather information about the content and form of language used by adults with ID who used KWS. The use of a narrative task was found to be useful and valid with adults with ID and could help to evaluate both verbal language and manual signing. It could identify communication strengths and weaknesses and could be expanded to other forms of AAC and to predict the ability of people to learn to use KWS for functional communication.

The authors believe that narrative tasks should be used when evaluating the language and communication abilities of KWS users.

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Narrative Therapy

Added to site Dec 2015