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Communication Partnerships with People with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities

Jill Bradshaw (Tizard Centre, University of Kent, Canterbury)

Tizard Learning Disability Review

ISSN: 1359-5474

Article publication date: 1 April 2001



There are many definitions of profound and multiple learning disabilities. Most definitions include having a high degree of learning disability in conjunction with at least one other severe impairment, such as visual, auditory or physical impairments (Male, 1996; Ware, 1996; Lacey, 1998). Bunning (1997) adds that people with such disabilities are very reliant on others for support, including support in taking part in communicative events. Establishing reliable and consistent methods of communication may be exceptionally difficult (Florian et al, 2000). However, it is important to consider the individuality and extreme diversity of this population (Detheridge, 1997; Hogg, 1998), which includes variability in communication strengths and needs (Granlund & Olsson, 1999; McLean et al, 1996). Communication is often given little attention when services are planning ways of supporting individuals to participate, develop independence and make choices (McGill et al, 2000). While the individual's communication strengths and needs should remain central within any discussion, the significant others and the environment will also have an important influence. This article explores some of the communication issues experienced by people with profound and multiple learning disabilities and highlights the importance of the communication partnership within interventions.


Bradshaw, J. (2001), "Communication Partnerships with People with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities", Tizard Learning Disability Review, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 6-15.




Copyright © 2001, MCB UP Limited

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