Receptive communication issues key in small study of adults with profound learning disabilities

Communication Aid

Difficulties  experienced by people with learning disabilities with communication can impact greatly on their ability to have control over their lives. Problems can be with receptive, expressive, or written domains.

The researchers in the present study set out to look specifically at the communication difficulties faced by 204 people described as having profound learning disabilities who lived in two large supports and services centres in the United States.

They collected data on receptive, expressive, and written communication skills for the participants using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (VABS) and conducted tests on the three domains of communication identified.

They found that the participants had a significantly larger proportion of receptive subdomain items than expressive subdomain or written subdomain items.

They also found that participants exhibited a significantly larger proportion of expressive subdomain items than written subdomain items.

The authors consider the implications of their findings for the organisation of support for communication in people with profound learning disabilities.

An examination of specific communication deficits in adults with profound intellectual disabilities, Belva B et al., in Research in Developmental Disabilities, 33, 2, 525-529

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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