About my PhD Thesis

This will develop over time but this an current overview of my topic I am investgating:

The role of AAC as a factor in facilitating people’s participation, and the importance of communication and its link with participation outcomes, including individuals’ personal experiences of living a satisfying life, is being increasingly explored and researched. Sexuality and sexual expression have been linked with psychological well-being and as disability can impact on many aspects of life, practitioners need to incorporate these into intervention outcomes. While there is considerable research around sexuality and disability, I found little academic literature addressing the specific barriers and facilitators for people with CCN.

As a person with strong Christian beliefs, I struggled with the whole area of sexuality for many years. In recent years I have found myself in intimate relationships and discovered that even as a capable and educated person, I needed information. People have told me that when you are in that situation you just know what to do. That is a bit like saying when you find yourself in the cockpit of a jet aeroplane you will just know what buttons to press and how to come down and land.

In my University studies I was always intrigued by psychology and sociology theories. In my Honours Degree, I encountered several theorists who sparked my interest in doing research that could help people live satisfying lives and also an interest in the range of human sexuality. Various documentaries on the sexual needs of people with disabilities, such as Scarlet Road, have opened my eyes to these needs and challenged my beliefs.

My research aims to contribute to the quality and full enjoyment of life of people with CCN. In particular, it is my hope that it will contribute to the development of AAC practices that facilitate and move beyond reductive, heteronormative and medical constructions of sexualities.
To this end, my current working research question is: “What are the barriers and facilitators for people with complex communication needs (CCN) to explore, develop and express their sexuality and share intimacy?”