How adults with a profound intellectual disability engage others in interaction

Antaki, Charles and Crompton, Rebecca J. and Walton, Christopher and Finlay, William Michael Logan (2017) How adults with a profound intellectual disability engage others in interaction. Sociology of Health and Illness, 39 (4). pp. 581-598. ISSN 0141-9889

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Using video records of everyday life in a residential home, we report on what interactional practices are used by people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities to initiate encounters. There were very few initiations, and all presented difficulties to the interlocutor; one (which we call "blank recipiency") gave the interlocutor virtually no information at all on which to base a response. Only when the initiation was of a new phase in an interaction already under way (for example, the initiation of an alternative trajectory of a proposed physical move) was it likely to be successfully sustained. We show how interlocutors (support staff; the recording researcher) responded to initiations verbally, as if to neurotypical speakers - but inappropriately for people unable to comprehend, or to produce well-fitted next turns. This misreliance on ordinary speakers' conversational practices was one factor that contributed to residents abandoning the interaction in almost all cases. We discuss the dilemma confronting care workers.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Sociology of Health and Illness
Additional Information:
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Antaki, C., Crompton, R. J., Walton, C. and Finlay, W.M.L. (2017), How adults with a profound intellectual disability engage others in interaction. Sociol Health Illn, 39: 581–598. doi:10.1111/1467-9566.12500 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? intellectual impairmentlearning disabilityconversationinteractioninitiationhealth(social science)public health, environmental and occupational healthhealth policy ??
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Deposited On:
29 Jun 2017 08:58
Last Modified:
31 Mar 2024 00:54