Communication Forms and Functions of Children and Adults With Severe Mental Retardation in Community and Institutional Settings The forms and functions of expressive communication produced by 84 individuals with severe mental retardation were assessed, using a structured communication sampling procedure. Symbolic communication acts were produced by 39 participants, and 27 of these symbolic communicators produced one or more multiword/multisymbol utterances. Of the remaining participants, 38 produced intentional ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 1999
Communication Forms and Functions of Children and Adults With Severe Mental Retardation in Community and Institutional Settings
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lee K. McLean
    Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies University of Kansas Lawrence
  • Nancy C. Brady
    Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies University of Kansas Lawrence
  • James E. McLean
    Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies University of Kansas Lawrence
  • Gene Ann Behrens
    Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies University of Kansas Lawrence
  • Contact author: Lee K. McLean, PhD, A. J. Pappanikou Center, University of Connecticut, Box U-64, Storrs, CT 06268. Email: mclean@uconnvm.uconn.edu
  • Currently affiliated with the University of Connecticut, Storrs
    Currently affiliated with the University of Connecticut, Storrs×
  • Currently affiliated with the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
    Currently affiliated with the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis×
Article Information
Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / School-Based Settings / Healthcare Settings / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 1999
Communication Forms and Functions of Children and Adults With Severe Mental Retardation in Community and Institutional Settings
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 1999, Vol. 42, 231-240. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4201.231
History: Received November 14, 1997 , Accepted April 29, 1998
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 1999, Vol. 42, 231-240. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4201.231
History: Received November 14, 1997; Accepted April 29, 1998

The forms and functions of expressive communication produced by 84 individuals with severe mental retardation were assessed, using a structured communication sampling procedure. Symbolic communication acts were produced by 39 participants, and 27 of these symbolic communicators produced one or more multiword/multisymbol utterances. Of the remaining participants, 38 produced intentional but nonsymbolic communication acts; 7 were not observed to produce any intentional communication. For all participants who produced intentional communication, there were significantly more imperative than declarative communication acts. Significant differences in the frequencies and functions of communication acts produced by these participants were associated with differences in their communication levels (contact gesture, distal gesture, or symbolic), age (child vs. adult), and residential status (community home vs. large facility).

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by Grant 5 PO1 HD18955 from NICHD. The authors gratefully acknowledge the valuable input and editorial assistance on this manuscript provided by colleagues Kathryn Saunders and Joseph Spradlin. Special thanks are due to the parents, teachers, and participants who allowed us into their homes and classrooms; and to our dedicated research assistants, Kathy Morris and Kristin Forbes Ferris, who traveled to every corner of the state of Kansas during one long, hot summer to collect these data. Finally, our thanks to Pat White for her consistently meticulous editorial and word processing support.
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