Assistive Positioning as a Control Parameter of Social-Communicative Interactions Between Students with Profound Multiple Disabilities and Classroom Staff
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This study examined the effects of assistive positioning on social-communicative interactions between 10 students, 6 to 12 years of age, with profound multiple disabilities, and their classroom staff. Interactions were videotaped in the students' classrooms when each student was positioned using a wheelchair, a sidelyer, and a mat on the floor. Data were analyzed by repeated-measures analysis of variance. During unstructured interactions, adults initiated communication at higher rates when students were positioned in their wheelchairs. During structured interactions, when students were given standardized opportunities for interaction, students functioning at lower levels of communication development were more communicative when they were supine on a mat than when in their wheelchairs or a sidelyer. In dynamic systems terms, position served as a control parameter of both adult and student communicative behaviors, which should be considered when recommending use of assistive positioning equipment for students with severe disabilities.
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