Journal of School Mental Health
Online ISSN : 2433-1937
Print ISSN : 1344-5944
Original Research
Support strategies to Enhance the Interpersonal Communication Skills of Students with Intellectual Disabilities: A Literature Review
Haruka ONOToshimi OMAGARIYusuke SOKABEShunsuke KOSE
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2017 Volume 20 Issue 2 Pages 188-196



It is difficult for students with intellectual disabilities to understand and engage in appropriate communication using only the information and cues given by their communication partners. They also lack the social skills, particularly interpersonal communicative skills, to maintain smooth interpersonal relationships. A school-based or classroom-based support system has been developed to address the issue. However, the system operates with limited scope, and it concerns itself only with interpersonal communication skills and everyday life skills. This study aims to throw light on the limitations and the areas of improvement in the interpersonal communication support strategies currently used to aid children with intellectual disabilities. To this end, we have reviewed studies that have been published in the last 15 years, especially the ones that focus on intervention as a support strategy.


For the purpose of this study, a keyword-search was conducted using CiNii, an academic database service. The keywords searched for were “intellectual disability,” “communication,” “social skills,” “interpersonal relationship,” “interaction,” “intervention,” “group-oriented contingency,” “cognitive behavioral therapy,” “Social Skills Training (SST),” “psychological education,” “assessment,” “behavior analysis,” and “modeling.”


Five studies were identified on the basis of the keyword-search, of which three studies focused on elementary school students, and two studies focused on junior-high school students. Two of the five studies sought to promote communication between friends through communicative interaction based on group-oriented contingency. On the contrary, three of the five studies were based on SST and sought to promote communication between friends.


We found that the use of adaptive skills acquired through SST decreases over time. The following were identified as essential factors in the context of implementing support strategies to develop interpersonal communication skills: functional assessment, providing functional feedback, providing reflective support for choosing target behavior, determining tokens on the basis of school culture, and developing intervention structures on the basis of a participant’s ability. In addition, while combining intervention factors, it is necessary to acknowledge temporal restrictions and other limitations, such as a shortage of human resources.

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© 2017 The Japan Association for School Mental Health
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