Family perspectives on augmentative and alternative communication: a constructivist grounded theory

  • Deborah Pugh

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This constructivist grounded theory explored the perspectives of twelve families of children who were using Augmentative and Alternative Communication Systems (AAC). There is a growing body of research literature concerning AAC but very little is focused on the perspectives of the ‘whole’ family and the use of AAC in the home environment. Twenty-five parents and children were interviewed using a variety of flexible qualitative methods including a ‘draw and tell’ approach for younger children and ‘Talking Mats’, a framework to support children with complex communication needs to express their views. The core category, ‘Finding a Voice’, emerged from the analysis of the data as families expressed the desire for their child with complex communication needs to gain a voice through the use of AAC. A trajectory was identified which provides a framework underpinning the families’ continuous progress towards ‘Finding a Voice’ for their child. The four phases in the trajectory: Loss of Voice, Prioritising a Voice, Gaining a Voice and Sustaining a Voice encapsulate the strategies parents used in implementing AAC in the home. Dynamic conditions associated with daily family life and routines resulted in parents redefining family roles and shifting priorities to allow the implementation of AAC. The findings show that although the use of AAC systems in the home can be challenging, parents in the study viewed successful communication as a high priority for their children. These findings give a greater insight into the perspectives of families using AAC systems with implications for professional practice.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Northampton
    SupervisorJackie Campbell (Supervisor), Tracey Redwood (Supervisor) & Sarah Neill (Supervisor)

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