Elaine Scougal

Project Title: Exploring the use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication to facilitate communication in children and young people with Down syndrome

Communication provides the foundation of relationships. Due to factors including low muscle tone and reduced phonological awareness, many people with Down syndrome experience verbal communication impairments throughout life, impacting on their agency and participation in society. Early intervention is, therefore, important in enabling individuals with Down syndrome to reach their potential in terms of communication and independence.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) can enable the exchange of thoughts and stories in the absence of, or in addition to, speech, including the use of symbols and speech generating devices. Despite the prevalence of speech challenges within this group and the value of early intervention, research into the use of AAC to support the communication of children and young people with Down syndrome is limited.

Within this PhD, I will gain insights from people with Down syndrome and stakeholders (caregivers, speech therapists and educators) relating to AAC strategies, assessment, and support. I will also explore whether stakeholder perceptions relating to Down syndrome may impact upon the AAC provision and support offered or received. Combined, this project will provide scope for enhancing the communication, agency, and independence of people with Down syndrome across the lifespan.


Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Biological Sciences - Health/Sport

University: University of Dundee

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