Two conversational practices for encouraging adults with intellectual disabilities to reflect on their activities


Prof. Charles Antaki, School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK (e-mail:


Background  Staff can encourage adults with intellectual disabilities to reflect on their experiences in a number of ways. Not all are equally successful interactionally.

Methods  Conversation Analysis is used to examine c. 30 h of recordings made at two service-provider agencies.

Results  I identify two practices for soliciting reflection: both start with open-ended ‘test’ questions, but they differ on how these are followed up. A more interrogatory practice is to follow up with alternatives and yes/no questions. A more facilitative practice is to give hints and elaborate the replies.

Conclusions  I discuss the differences between the two practices in terms of the institutional agendas that guide the staff's interactional routines. With regard to the more successful one, I note the sensitivity of using ‘hints’ when asking about clients' own experiences.