Module 3 - Assessment of Mental Health for People with an Intellectual Disability

How can the interview be modified to assist with these difficulties?

Psychiatric interview often takes longer in people with intellectual disability and some time may need to be set aside to establish rapport with the person. It may be better for the person to be seen in their usual environment as going to a medical appointment can make some people very anxious. If the person has to attend at an office, getting the first appointment in the day can reduce waiting time. It is important to inform the health professional if any difficulties are anticipated, particularly if the person is violent. As the person is likely to have difficulty with giving a history, it is important that someone who knows the person will attend the assessment. Previous reports and assessments should be made available. If behaviours of concern have been charted then it is important to take this information to the appointment. An informal conversation at the outset can help put the person at ease, improving the quality of the interview. Several shorter sessions may be preferable for people with limited attention and concentration, or who are prone to agitation. In people with limited language, visual aids can be helpful. It may be useful to join an activity with the person and have a more casual ‘chat’ to get information.
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