Orienting to affect in services for people with severe or profound intellectual disabilities: A UK-based investigation

Background: This study argues for displays of affect by people with severe or pro-found intellectual disabilities to be analysed in the course of everyday interactions with the people who support them.
Method: Conversation analysis is applied to the affective displays of residents of a social care service for people with severe or profound intellectual disabilities to iden-tify how such displays are taken up and form the basis for further action.
Results: Three types of orientations to affect are identified: where the cause of the affect is unknown; where there is a proximal cause; and where the proximal cause is a prior action by a member of staff. Staff orient to affect as expressions of both feel-ings and cognitions, thereby providing the basis for self-determination.
Conclusions: Displays of affect are a communicative resource for those with severe or profound impairments and must be studied in situ if they are to inform policy and everyday practice.