Brown, J.B., Hamilton-Mason, J., Maramaldi, P., & Barnhill, L.J. (2017) Communication Crossroads. Global Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities, 3(4): 555616.
This review examines an emergent analysis in a constructivist grounded theory qualitative study that explored how bi-directional communication patterns were observed impacting the demonstration of cognitive strengths of individuals with intellectual disabilities, mental health issues, and histories of challenging behaviors in a focus group setting. Although participants demonstrated cognitive strengths, such as self-awareness, social awareness, insight, wisdom, and spirituality in discussions, often high cognitive load demands appeared to degrade their ability to organize their communications when discussing abstract/multifaceted concepts. When speakers’ statements became unclear and disorganized, it simultaneously appeared to increase cognitive load demands for the listeners. When speakers and/or listeners engaged to clarify statements, the two-way street communications appeared to scaffold cognitive strengths. When speakers and listeners did not collaborate to explain points, the speakers tended to withdraw from the discussion. Throughout the focus groups, participants (and the facilitator) continually navigated communication crossroads, actively assessing whether it was beneficial to seek clarification or to move on. This review highlights several interesting observations about the bi-direction communication patterns, cognitive load, and cognitive strengths that may be worth deeper exploration using more rigorous methods.