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Friendship Experiences of Young Adults Who Use Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Dada, S and Tonsing, K and Goldbart, J (2020) Friendship Experiences of Young Adults Who Use Augmentative and Alternative Communication. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education. ISSN 1034-912X

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Abstract

© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Background: Friendship is a crucial relationship for young adults with disabilities as it offers practical support and enjoyment, and it is essential to well-being and health. The present study examined the friendships of young adults with physical disabilities whose challenges with natural speech necessitate the use of augmentative and alternative communication. Methods: Ten adults aged 19–32 were interviewed about their friendships. The semi-structured interviews were often co-constructed conversations between the participant, the carer and the interviewer. A process of largely inductive thematic analysis was followed, although this was guided by the existing literature on friendship experiences of persons using AAC. Results: Four themes were identified, namely companionship, quality of friendship, desire for independence, and the role of technology in mediating friendships. Conclusion: The participants in this study experienced positive relationships with friends. The importance of being understood by their friends and the role of social media in maintaining these friendships were highlighted.

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