Participation of children with CCN (summary)

Background Participation, or involvement in life situations, is an important aspect of children's development. A number of factors affect the level of participation that children with developmental disabilities experience, such as age, physical abilities, personality traits, communication abilities and learning disability. Children with communication disabilities experience different levels of participation depending on the activity. Little is known, however, about the participation of children with complex communication needs who use communication aids, despite the acquisition of an aid representing a significant investment of resources and increased participation being a possible outcome of an AAC intervention.

What was the aim of the study? This study aimed to explore the frequency of children's participation in terms of their age, level of speech intelligibility and their parents' perceived usefulness of their communication aid.

What did the authors do? The authors distributed a survey to parents of children with complex communication needs. They measured speech intelligibility and how useful children's communication aids were in supporting children's interaction with others. They also asked parents how often their children participated in recreational, social and self-improvement activities. Examples of these types of activities included playing games or collecting things (recreational), going on a day out or visiting other people (social) and doing homework or chores (self-improvement).

What did they find? Information on 69 children contributed to the analysis. Younger children, aged three to eleven years, were rated as having experienced more participation than older children, aged eleven to twenty-one years, particularly on recreational activities. Within the group of younger children, children with partially intelligible speech scored more highly than children with no speech in terms of recreational and social participation.

Cautions: The sample size in this study was small, so some relationships that may actually exist could have been missed.

Conclusions: Clear differences in participation exist between younger and older children with complex communication needs, and speech intelligibility affects participation of younger children. However, it is important to bear in mind that increasing participation absolutely is not necessarily the most desirable outcome, as the quality of children's interactions and participation is also valuable.

Things you may want to look into:

Emily's story about making new friends

General paediatric AAC

Added to site January 2014