The interaction between social and communication skills in individuals with intellectual disability

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Social and communication skills are used daily during social interactions and are important for independent living and quality of life. In neurotypical development, children learn to coordinate these skills across multiple developmental domains (e.g., cognitive, social, emotional, language/communication) to engage in social interactions. The multi-domain and interdependent nature of social and communication skills makes them difficult to define and describe. For individuals with intellectual disability (ID) who experience delays in these skills that alter their developmental trajectories, these interrelations become even more complex and important for effective intervention. Yet measures of social and communication skills rarely account for this complexity, limiting approaches to intervention. In this chapter, we discuss how different disciplines have approached theoretical descriptions of social and communication skills within their respective disciplines which has led to incomplete approaches to their assessment. We use examples from social cognition to highlight how key social and communication skills have been defined and siloed by approaches to assessment and to show how this has influenced our understanding of social and communicative development across individuals with ID. We call for future transdisciplinary research to adopt a holistic approach to the assessment of social and communicative functioning in people with ID that leads to the development of more sophisticated measures to inform both research and clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSocial and Communicative Functioning in Populations with Intellectual Disability
Subtitle of host publicationRethinking Measurement
EditorsMarie Moore Channell, Laura J. Mattie
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages49
ISBN (Print)9780443132759
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Publication series

NameInternational Review of Research in Developmental Disabilities
ISSN (Print)2211-6095


  • Holistic assessment
  • Intellectual disability
  • Social cognition
  • Social communication
  • Social functioning
  • Social skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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