Conversational interaction between children using communication aids and their peers
This thesis uses the principles and practices of Conversation Analysis in an examination of conversational interaction between non-speaking children with Cerebral Palsy using voice output communication aids (VOCAs) and their speaking peers. In order to capture the unique and subtle ways in which these interactions are organised this thesis presents a detailed examination of three dyads. Many children with Cerebral Palsy experience profound difficulty producing intelligible speech. Such children may be provided with communication aids, including VOCAs, as an alternative communication modality. Despite recognition of the value of children's peer relationships, few studies have focused on interaction between children using communication aids and their peers. The central aim of this thesis is to examine how such interactions are organised. In particular, this work is concerned with examining the role of the speaking partners in conversational organisation, how VOCAs contribute to interaction and how conversations are organised when non-speaking children participate through unintelligible vocalisations and non-verbal actions. A significant feature of each dyad is the work that speaking partners do in organising particular types of structural integrity for the conversation. This includes speaking partners locating the production of VOCA mediated turns and non-verbal actions within specific sequential contexts. Such practices provide frameworks within which VOCA mediated contributions and non-verbal actions may be understood. VOCA use initiated outside such predefined sequential locations may be realised problematically. Speaking children may also seek to organise the interaction through the treatment of their partners' unintelligible vocalisations and non-verbal actions with rich meaning. In so doing, speaking partners portray children with Cerebral Palsy with particular types of competence. By revealing the ways in which these children organise conversational interaction, this thesis highlights implications for intervention by Speech and Language Therapists who support children using communication aids in schools.