This study describes uptake of augmentative and alternative communication systems by adults with intellectual disabilities; their ability to self-report at interview; differences in self-reported loneliness experiences by communication mode; and predictors of loneliness. We analyzed National Core Indicators data from 26 US states involving over 13,000 service users grouped by primary means of expression: natural speech, gestures/body language, manual signs, or communication aid/device (aided AAC). Uptake of aided AAC was low; only 0.8 of participants used aided AAC as their primary means of expression. Valid interview responding was higher in turn for participants communicating with natural speech, aided AAC, and other modes. Almost half the participants were lonely, but loneliness did not differ by communication mode used; social contact and social climate variables predicted loneliness. Individuals who used aided AAC communicated more effectively than users of other non-speech modes, supporting more widespread use of aided AAC. Loneliness was prevalent but aided AAC users were not lonelier. Interventions to reduce loneliness are discussed.
- Aided AAC
- Intellectual disabilities