communication impairments, WHO ICF, contextual factors, narratives, lived experience.
attitudes and more general attitudes in society can negatively influence the
functioning of people with communication disorders according to the WHO ICF
(2002). Personal narratives have been recommended as the best means to convey
and understand a person’s life experience and have been investigated
extensively. Investigations of personal narratives of communication impairment
in mass media continue to be relatively rare in the literature. Published
narratives can enrich understandings of clients’ experiences by elucidating
available representations of lived experiences of communication impairment.
This research aims to answer the following research
What types of personal narratives of communication
impairments are currently being disseminated in Irish newspapers?
How are experiences of communication impairments
represented in these narratives?
& Procedures: The study was qualitative, deploying
inductive analysis and drawing on Frank’s (1995) typology of illness narratives
to analyse narratives that were published in 2 Irish national newspapers over a
12 month period.
The results illustrate the
under-representation of communication impairments in Irish newspapers as 10 out
of 51 narratives in the corpus pertained to conditions that may have associated
communication impairments. None of the narratives related the lived experience
of a person with communication impairment in depth. A combination of quest and
chaos narrative types was identified in six out of the ten narratives. Three
out of the ten narratives featured a combination of chaos and restitution
narrative types. One narrative was identified as being entirely a quest
narrative. Three narratives contained elements of restitution. Inductive
analysis revealed six main themes in the data (2 for each narrative type) with
one sub-theme identified for each main theme. The six main themes are: positive
stances, re-evaluation of life, despair, fear, hope, and support of others.
The under-representation of the lived
experience of people with communication impairments in Irish national
newspapers may be seen as contributing to a general lack of understanding and
awareness of communication impairments. This under-representation, coupled with
a lack of awareness, may potentially affect the ability of people with
communication impairments to re-engage with and reintegrate into their communities.