An examination of specific communication deficits in adults with profound intellectual disabilities

Brian C. Belva, Louisiana State University, USA.
Johnny L. Matson
Megan Sipes
Jay W. Bamburg


Previous research has shown that adults with intellectual disability (ID) evince communication deficits. These communication problems can be divided into problems with receptive, expressive, and written domains. While much research has been devoted to investigating communication deficits in ID in general, scant research has been conducted on communication skills in specific levels of ID. This study examined 204 adults with profound ID residing in two large supports and services centers in the southeastern region of the United States. Data was collected on these individuals' receptive, expressive, and written communication skills using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (VABS). Three dependent t-tests were conducted comparing the proportion of items endorsed by informants on each of the three communication subdomains (receptive, expressive, and written) with one another. Participants displayed a significantly larger proportion of receptive subdomain items than expressive subdomain items, t(203) = 20.00, p < 0.01, and written subdomain items, t(203) = 20.53, p < 0.01. Additionally, it was found that the individuals exhibited a significantly larger proportion of expressive subdomain items than written subdomain items, t(203) = 10.80, p < 0.01. The implications of these findings are discussed.