Family experiences and children with autism who use speech generating devices

Rebecca Elizabeth Mullican


Semi-structured interviews were used to investigate family experiences with their children with autism who use Speech Generating Devices (SGDs). Six parents were interviewed on two separate occasions about their experiences with their child, ages three-eighteen. Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyze the interviews. Five super-ordinate themes emerged: (a) Complexity of speech generating devices as tools for communication, (b) Tension between structure and play, (c) Interplay between requesting and social interaction, (d) The fluctuating role of parent advocate, and (e) Building a diverse support network. These qualitative findings can be used to inform families and professionals working with children who have autism and use SGDs. Possible implications focus on topics surrounding family experiences with autism and SGDs. Keywords: autism; speech generating devices; families; augmentative and alternative communication; qualitative, interpretive phenomenological analysis, AAC, SGD, IPA