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 profound 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 identify 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 feelings 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.