University essay from Högskolan i Halmstad

Abstract: Disability is a state which questions one’s social standing. Individuals with disability are often seen shunned and sheltered from the society. It is understood that one cannot expect the world to revolve around us, rather we make adjustments to make life smoother. This thesis looks at non-verbal communication strategies within one case study who suffers from Cerebral Palsy and multiple communication needs. The major share of the thesis looks at the multimodal communication where the communication and bodily gestures gain prominence.   Cerebral Palsy, in an overview, (CP) is a group of permanent neurological disorder that affects one’s body movement and muscle coordination, commonly seen in an infant stage or early childhood caused by the damage to the brain that hinders the brain’s ability to control movement and posture of the body. CP affects the outer layer of the brain that directs the muscle movements. Alongside a stationary characteristic, a lot of motor, sensory and intellectual impairments accompany the disorder. These characteristics mark the beginning of life for the CP injured and is seen affecting their physical, mental and social existence, limiting their abilities of motor and oral skills impairing the ability of speech. Physique alterations include changes in jaw structure, lips and tongue making it nearly impossible in articulating words (Geytenbeek, 2011). Communication is an integral part of any relation. Feelings and emotions are often conveyed through communicating it in two different ways- verbal (psycholinguistics) - that involves a lot of ideas, messages conveyed through words and speech for communication and non-verbal (psychobiological) - involves facial and bodily expressions. My prime target is the latter’s way of communication, how these non- verbal communication can be interpreted, how do the family members and personal assistants decipher the expressions and understand subtle nuances. The complexity of communication within this group is further intensified by the power structures and decision makers in the society. It also tries to look at different models of communication and the strategies to make communication effective among the disabled group. Communication is very mutable and through this dissertation I try to analyze techniques that gives visibility to varied experiences and turning them into representations of certain ideas. Also it tries to unravel the emerging problems within the communication arena, misinterpretations thus reaching a conclusive hypothesis that communication is constantly irregular and fluctuating according to distinctive time, person and space.

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