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A matter of meaning

The effect of social partner support on the intersubjective behaviors of individuals with congenital deafblindness
PhD ceremony:dr. S. (Saskia) Damen
When:February 26, 2015
Start:14:30
Supervisors:prof. dr. H.J.M. (Marleen H.J.M.) Janssen, prof. dr. A.J.J.M. (Wied) Ruijssenaars, C. Schuengel
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
A matter of meaning

It is very difficult for individuals with congenital deafblindness to communicate with others. In this study a training program was developed for their social partners, such as parents, teachers and caregivers. The central aim of the study was to test the effect of the training program, the so called “High Quality Communication (HQC) intervention. The intervention consists of education and video-feedback coaching. The intervention was applied to 11 participants with congenital deafblindness and 34 social partners. For all participants significant improvements were found in communication aspects that children typically develop between the ages of 0 and nine months, such as turn taking and the sharing of emotions. For the majority of the participants there were also significant improvements in communication aspects that children typically develop between the ages of two and six years, such as referring to something or someone and the sharing of thoughts. Social partners appeared to be able to elicit complex forms of communication in individuals with congenital deafblindness. The study also revealed that the support of social partners should not only  aim at the attunement of their emotions and behaviors to those of the individual with deafblindness, but also at ways to transmit, negotiate and share meanings. The conclusion is that individuals with congenital deafblindness are more able to share their thoughts and emotions when their social partners are supported in the communication with these individuals.