Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

Overcoming challenges: Language

This video explores overcoming challenges to communicating with a person with an intellectual disability: Language
Language. Avoid using long sentences. Use short, concise sentences one concept at a time. For example, show me where you hurt. Break down instructions into simple steps, making sure the person has understood before moving to the next piece. Use concrete language as opposed to abstract. For example, tell me. I’m going to. Avoid the use of jargon. Use gestures to get the person to mimic you, if you want them to do something. So for example, say do this. Instead of move your arm up and down. Don’t use ambiguous statements such as, get yourself ready. Instead say, put on your coat. People with an intellectual disability find it difficult to identify negatives in sentences. Therefore avoid using won’t, can’t, don’t.
Subjective language can also pose difficulties. So instead of saying– what are you feeling? Say, are you sad? Are you happy? Time is also a difficult concept for people with an intellectual disability to comprehend and follow. To make the concept of time more concrete, use examples from daily routines, such as dinner time, or breakfast time, for example. Overall, encourage patients to be actively involved, either verbally or nonverbally, rather than passive recipients. Use positive reinforcement and positive comment. Enabling the person to be actively involved increases their opportunity to be in control of their situation. Overcoming communication difficulties by making reasonable adjustment, and allowing additional time to exchange information will contribute to enhancing your practise.
By providing appropriate information, and effectively involving people with an intellectual disability in decision-making, promotes high-quality excellent care. Ultimately, promoting a good experience for the person with an intellectual disability.

In this video, we looked at some guidelines for communicating effectively with people with an intellectual disability.

Thinking about these best practice guidelines, we’d like you to look at the following text, which presents fictional scenarios between a doctor and a person with an intellectual disability.

1. Hi Mary, it’s great to see you again. Don’t worry about a thing. We’ll be finished with this blood pressure test in two ticks. So, how are your feeling today?

2. Now get yourself ready and we’ll do this test with the stadiometer.

3. Don’t forget to take these tablets every day at 1pm, ok?

4. There are lots of reasons why we are weighing you today but you don’t need to worry about it as we will be telling your carer all about it once you have left.

Your turn

In the comments section below, we would like you to select one statement and rephrase it using our guidelines.

You can do this by either typing the text directly into the comment box, or copying and pasting the text and editing in the comment box.

You might also like to include descriptions of gestures, if needed.

This article is from the free online

Improving Health Assessments for People with an Intellectual Disability

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now