Reducing the risk of sexual abuse for people who use augmentative and alternative communication

Augment Altern Commun. 2006 Mar;22(1):62-75. doi: 10.1080/07434610500387490.


To date little attention has been focused on the sexual abuse experiences of people who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and on addressing ways to reduce their risk for this type of abuse. This paper describes the results of a 3-year project that aimed to: (a) learn about the sexual abuse experiences of people who use AAC; (b) provide educational forums and resources on topics relating to sexual abuse for adults who use AAC; (c) define implications in risk reduction for various community service workers who support people who use AAC (e.g., attendant service providers, abuse counselors, sexual health educators, police, victim assistance services, legal professionals, and health care professionals); and (d) make recommendations to parents, educators, service providers, and consumer advocacy organizations about their roles in reducing the risk of abuse for youth and adults who use AAC. The findings suggest that the majority of participants in this project have experienced a range of abuses including sexual abuse, lack information about healthy and abusive relationships, have no way of communicating about sexuality and abuse, and lack supports in their personal lives and from within the community-at-large that are necessary to cope with relationship difficulties and specifically problems associated with abuse and justice system services. These findings and implications are shared with the intent of highlighting the need for more research and attention to the issue of abuse prevention for people who use AAC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Communication Aids for Disabled*
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Education
  • Sex Offenses / prevention & control*
  • Sexuality
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires