ANTAKI, C. ... et al., 2016. How adults with a profound intellectual disability engage others in interaction. Sociology of Health & Illness, in press.
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.