Grappling with a non-speech language: describing and theorizing the nonverbal multimodal communication of a child with an intellectual disability
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This volume is indicative of an emerging breadth and depth of research into the diverse modes of communication that exist outside or alongside spoken and written language. While there has been, for example, a considerable focus on non-verbal modes of communication, such as gesture (see, for example, McNeill 1992, Kendon 1981, 2004), this focus is most often on the non-verbal communication of speakers1 . This chapter, however, focuses on the non-verbal modes of communication of someone who doesn't speak and who has a severe intellectual disability. People with intellectual disabilities and communication disorders exist in a particularly marginal space in society, relying on the beneficence of others for all their needs for the duration of their lives.