Module 2: Communicating with a person with disability

Understanding the complex nature of communication

Many people with intellectual disability have difficulty understanding complex language and expressing all of their thoughts and feelings verbally.

They may also be more likely to agree, or say yes, to statements or questions if:

  • they don’t know the answer;
  • the question is too long; or
  • they think you want them to say yes.

Many people with intellectual disability have difficulty remembering information; especially when they are away from the place where something happened, or where they are asked to remember several things at once.

They may also have difficulty organising their thoughts and ideas, and putting information together in a logical way.

Using images, pictures and objects can help people to remember important information, and to organise their thoughts and ideas.

Every person with intellectual disability will have different language skills depending on their abilities and experiences. Communication can also be affected by where it takes place, the person’s mood and who is present.

Every person will have different communication support needs.

When communicating with a person with disability, it is your responsibility to do everything you can to make sure that you are understood and that you understand the person fully.