“IF YOU USE YOUR AAC FROM THE BEGINNING OF A RELATIONSHIP, IT WILL BE NORMAL FOR YOU AND YOUR PARTNER, EVEN DURING SEX”: PEOPLE WHO USE AAC AND SEXUALITY

Open Access
Author:
Hoorn, Megan Elizabeth
Graduate Program:
Communication Sciences and Disorders
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
March 29, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Janice Light, Thesis Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Jessica Gosnell Caron, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • sexuality
  • sex
  • AAC
  • augmentative and alternative communication
  • complex communication needs
  • speech-language pathology
  • disability
  • relationships
Abstract:
Existing research within the field of augmentative and alternative communication documents aspects of sexuality such as preventing abuse, assessing capacity to consent, and providing education and opportunities (Hingsburger, 2010). Although these are all important areas of sexuality for discussion, research documenting sexual experiences, perspectives, needs, and priorities, of individuals who actually use augmentative and alternative communication as their primary communication modality is virtually nonexistent. This qualitative, phenomenological research study explored the experiences and recommendations of four individuals with complex communication needs who used AAC as their primary communication modality. The four participants completed semi-structured interviews via email. The interviews addressed the following topics: sexuality education, sexual experiences, relationship experiences, and communication. The results of this study were coded into five different themes: sexuality education, sex and sexuality specifically, communication during and about sex, barriers to sexuality, supports for sexuality, and recommendations. The clinical implications of this study are best described by the participants in their recommendations for professionals. Providing individuals with the supports that they need for communication in order to achieve their own goals and dreams includes providing supports for communicating about sexuality and relationships.