Background: Prior to pursuing my doctorate degree at Ohio University, I worked as a speech-language pathologist for 15 years in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have worked with children and adults with a range of developmental and acquired conditions. I most recently worked as an SLP in an inpatient neurorehabilitation hospital providing skilled services to individuals with significant cognitive and communication deficits. Many of my patients used AAC. My clinical work and collaboration with professionals from recreation and education has significantly impacted my research program as I will describe below.
Current Interests: The current focus of my doctoral studies is to complete my dissertation. Over the course of my doctoral studies I have conducted research with communication partners who support people with significant communication disorders to participate in active leisure and recreation. Based on my experience, I have observed that leisure and recreational settings can have a significant impact on quality of life, creating opportunities for communication, and facilitating participation for people who use AAC. Settings of active recreation are filled with rich and meaningful opportunities to socialize, communicate, and engage with the community. Community based volunteers are key players in recreation and provide critical support for people who use AAC. My primary interest areas relative to AAC are to: increase opportunities for meaningful communication and social exchange, train partners to facilitate participation, and support people who use AAC to expand their recreational and community based interests.
Sample Presentation/Publication: Hajjar, D. J., McCarthy, J. W., Benigno, J. P., & Chabot, J. (2016). “You Get More Than You Give”: Experiences of Community Partners in Facilitating Active Recreation with Individuals who have Complex Communication Needs. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 32, 131-142 . This paper was my pre-candidacy project at Ohio University. In order to learn more about active recreational settings, I interviewed experienced volunteers who support people who use AAC to access sports like skiing, snowboarding and horseback riding. In active recreational settings, volunteers reduce participation barriers and are willing to do more to enhance the experience by focusing on communication and social interaction. This qualitative research project has led to additional projects that involve training volunteers and providing take away items for participants to share with people in their social networks.
Dissertation Chair: Dr John McCarthy
Additional Information: David Hajjar’s ResearchGate page
Think Tank Presentation Topic and Discussion Starters: My dissertation research: Supporting people with complex communication needs(CCN) to capture and share active recreational experiences. I will present an aspect of my most current research which uses the framework of Participatory Action Research (PAR). The PAR approach was beneficial to investigate the collaborative role of volunteers, caregivers and participants with CCN as they collected digital media and shared this with family and friends via digital and face to face methods.
- Participation: What are the most meaningful and effective methods to measure participation when conducting research?
- Training communication partners: What are the most effective methods to train, evaluate, and provide feedback to partners across community and recreational settings? What are the best practices for incorporating distance learning for communication partners?
- Psychosocial skills to support communicative competence: How do we investigate the factors of motivation, confidence and resiliency for people with CCN? What types of activities best support the development of these factors?