Communication and interaction for adults with ID

Communication and your ability to interact with others as an adult is going to vary depending on the severity of your Intellectual Disability (ID). If your ID is mild, then you may not experience any difficulty at all and be quite confident. For those adults whose ID is more challenging this could be an area of difficulty that you may require assistance with. Many adults with an ID may have learnt sign language and depending on where you access work, a day program and your leisure activities many people within these environments may not have this skill set to interact with you successfully. Similarly if your disability is more severe and you use a communication device or aided language display to communicate, those in your extended environments will need to become familiar with how you use these to communicate.


Communication is quite a complex function that requires us to understand another persons’ intent and then in turn for us to respond to the interaction. As an adult with an ID you may experience a delay in your ability to respond while you try to interpret what has been said and then how you formulate a response to this. Something like maintaining a conversation  can be challenging under these circumstances but can also be a skill that can improve with time.

As mentioned if you have a more complex communication difficulty you may require an alternative communication device using technology or an aided language display. This then requires your communication partner to have knowledge in how to respond and use these alternative methods. At the completion of your school years a transition plan would have been put in place for you. You need to ensure that your communication needs have been explained thoroughly within this document and updated as required. A family member, friend or speech pathologist will be able to assist you in the ongoing maintenance of these systems over time as your needs expand and change.

If you have a further learning disability such as an Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD)  or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD)  then this could add another layer of complexity in your ability to communicate and interact.

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