Adolescents' experiences of communication following acquired brain injury

Katherine Buckeridge , Channine Clarke, Diane Sellers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: Paediatric acquired brain injury (ABI) is one of the leading causes of neurodisability in childhood. The long-term effects of ABI on cognition, behaviour and emotions are well documented. Previous research has found that communication is difficult for adolescents with ABI compared with typically developing peers. Quantitative studies have identified deficits in specific domains of speech and language, but no research studies have sought to capture adolescents’ lived experiences of communication or explored the multidimensional nature of this. Aims: To explore adolescents’ everyday experiences of communication following ABI. This research also offered adolescents an opportunity to give their views on an issue that has not previously been explored in relation to paediatric ABI. Method & Procedures: A qualitative study was undertaken using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) for in-depth exploration of the lived experiences of communication following ABI. Participants were recruited from an NHS Trust in England. Six adolescents (aged 11–18 years) participated in semi-structured interviews. Data analysis followed the guides for IPA. Outcomes & Results: The data revealed three main themes: the social world; communication competence; and life in the classroom. Adolescents experienced communication changes and challenges, which affected functioning and participation. Difficulties with communication affected identity, learning, relationships and confidence. Conclusions & Implications: These findings provide an insight into how communication is experienced in everyday life from the perspectives of adolescents with ABI. The study revealed that adolescents’ individual experiences of communication were dependent on contextual factors. Sensitivity to communication changes was associated with the age when the ABI occurred. Difficulties with communication impacted on identity. Negative communication experiences at school affected a sense of belonging; peer group support helped some adolescents to cope with the communication challenges they faced. Further research is needed to explore how participation in communication is affected by paediatric ABI and what could be done to support this. It is recommended that increased attention should be paid by professionals to the psychological impact of communication changes and difficulties experienced by this population.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)97-109
    Number of pages13
    JournalInternational Journal of Language & Communication Disorders
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2019

    Bibliographical note

    This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Buckeridge, K. , Clarke, C. and Sellers, D. (2019), Adolescents’ experiences of communication following acquired brain injury. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, which has been published in final form at: DOI: 10.1111/1460-6984.12506. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.


    • Aquired brain injury
    • communication
    • Adolescent
    • communication experiences
    • adolescents
    • qualitative
    • acquired brain injury
    • paediatric


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