Back to Basics: Exploring gestural habits as cues for anticipating self-injurious episodes in a child with Autism and Deafness
Fleishman, Melissa Helen
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This research project is a longitudinal qualitative case study. It contributes to an understanding of self-injurious behaviour (SIB) by inviting the reader through the narrative of the lived experience of a fifteen year old child-informant and the network of individuals in his life. The value and importance of a case-study is that it focuses on the authenticity of the experience of living with disability. Through the use of detailed field observations, interviews and photo documents, the study thoroughly explores three main areas: quality of movements, potential cues as pre-cursors to episodes of self-injury, and purposeful communication. The research begins with a review of literature on Autism, Deafness and Self-injury, formulates the research design and orientation of Physical Education, Phenomenology and Semiotics, and then systematically explores four distinct phases in the analytical process. The aim was to explore self-injurious episodes in the child informant in hopes to translate the meaning of the behaviour and potentially utilize this to provide more opportunities for adapted physical activity. The findings reveal distinct patterns of movement cues utilized for different purposes. The implications of the findings are self-injurious episodes in the child informant are preceded by distinct patterns of movement that are potentially communicative. Suggested future direction of the research is expanding the scope to other disabilities for which verbal communication is challenging, and standardizing the translating tools to assist in understanding the communication of movement.