Establishing conversational exchanges with family and friends: Moving from training to meaningful communication

Pam Hunt, Morgen Alwell, Lori Goetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Three high school students with severe disabilities were taught to participate in conversations with a number of peers in a variety of school and community settings utilizing a communication book adaptation. Additionally, during baseline, training, and informed-generalization-partner phases, measures were taken of the degree to which conversation initiation and turn taking generalized to conversation opportunities outside the instructional situation with family members and other nondisabled partners at home and in the community. During the independence phase, when students were participating in sustained conversations with a large number of peers at school, there continued to be breakdowns in conversational turn taking in probe contexts. Utilizing a multiple baseline design across students, probe partners at home and school received the information they needed to support the students with disabilities by conversing via the communication book and utilizing the conversation structure to provide additional prompts. The results showed that the number of balanced conversational turns taken following partner training immediately matched performance with informed peers at school. Finally, the study demonstrated that one family member could provide the necessary information for successful interactions to another without further input from school personnel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-319
Number of pages15
JournalThe Journal of Special Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1991


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