Interpersonal sources of conflict in young people with and without mild to moderate intellectual disabilities at transition from adolescence to adulthood

Peter Larkin, Andrew Jahoda, Kenneth Macmahon, Carol Pert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Interpersonal conflict is a source of stress and contributes to poor mental health in people with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. Understanding the contexts in which conflict typically occurs can better equip services to help people with such difficulties. However, existing studies into the contexts of conflict have included participants with wide-ranging ages and may not reflect the experiences of young adults in particular.

Materials and Methods: Twenty-six young adults (16–20 years) with intellectual disabilities and 20 non-disabled young adults completed a semi-structured interview about a recent experience of interpersonal conflict. Participants were asked to describe their beliefs and feelings about the event and their subsequent response.

Results: Participants with intellectual disabilities were more likely to encounter conflict with strangers or peers outside their friendship group and to describe incidents of aggression than non-disabled participants. They were also more likely to characterize the other person globally as ‘bad’ and to perceive the other’s actions as being personally directed at them. Young women with intellectual disabilities were less likely to describe responding aggressively to incidents.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that young adults with intellectual disabilities are often the target of overt aggression from those outside their inner social sphere, while their non-disabled peers are more likely to experience conflict with people close to them. Young adults with intellectual disabilities may also be more likely to feel victimized by interpersonal conflict. Implications of these findings and limitations of the study are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-38
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Volume25
Issue number1
Early online date3 Nov 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

Keywords

  • intellectual disabilities
  • interpersonal conflict
  • transition to adulthood

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