All children have the right to shape decisions that influence their lives. Yet, children with severe-to-profound intellectual disabilities and complex communication needs are often marginalized from this process. Here, we examined the utility of a set of tools incorporating ethnographic and structured observational methods with three such children. We specifically examined the communicative behavior that these children used to share their views and the ways in which adults recognized and responded to them. The three case studies illustrate (1) that these children have ways to make their intentions known, even though they may use idiosyncratic ways of doing so; (2) that adults play important roles in supporting their communicative bids; and (3) that this set of tools was sufficiently sensitive to subtle and fine-grained nonverbal cues that might otherwise be overlooked.
- emerging language
- intellectual disability