Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Department of Special Education

First Advisor

Karen H. Douglas


This single subject multiple probe study across dyads investigated the effects of social positioning on the nonsymbolic and symbolic communication of adult peers with severe and multiple disabilities and complex communication needs (SMD-CCN) when they were out of their wheelchairs. Social positioning referred to the positioning of adults with SMD-CCN in proximity and facing one another (no more than three ft apart) with access to speech generating devices (SGDs) with appropriate messages for communicating and socializing with peers. Videotapes of the adults were analyzed to collect event recording data of their nonsymbolic (eye gaze, reaching, and vocalization) and symbolic (SGD activations) communication. Data on the intentionality of SGD activations were collected and analyzed as well. Intentionality of SGD activation was recorded when that participant activated the SGD in response to interaction with a dyad partner (within 20 s of the dyad partner using his or her SGD, vocalizing, reaching for, or looking at the partner) or when the participant activated the SGD 20s before or after looking at, vocalizing to, or eye gazing to a dyad partner. The trend, level, and overlap of data points for each dependent variable were visually analyzed. During social positioning conditions, participants communicated with their peers more often than when they were not positioned for the purpose of communication. Social positioning increased nonsymbolic and symbolic communication as well as the intentionality of SGD activation in adult peers with SMD-CCN and should be considered when out-of-wheelchair positioning is required. In addition, staff members were overwhelmingly supportive of the idea of social positioning. Implications and future research are discussed at the conclusion of the study.


Imported from ProQuest Bonnike_ilstu_0092E_10770.pdf


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