An exploration of the quality of life of people labelled with intellectual disabilities, and their capabilities as assessed by the Short Parallel Assessments of Neuropsychological Status (SPANS).

2018-11-07T11:51:15Z (GMT) by Danielle Harker-Brown
Enhancing quality of life has become a central focus in the intellectual disabilities (ID) field, corresponding with the emergence of a social-ecological model of disability. An on-going narrative shift towards understanding capabilities and the interplay between individual ability and the environment is influencing service provision. Identifying cognitive strengths and weaknesses is one way of better understanding such capabilities and thus contributing to maximising environments, for example, by informing support needs and other pertinent factors that play a role in overall quality of life. Literature Review Personal and environmental factors that contribute to the quality of life of people labelled with ID were reviewed. Fourteen quantitative papers were synthesised and indicated a particular association between cognitive ability, environments that foster agency, choices and personalisation, and quality of life. Diverse methodologies, sampling, and broader inclusion of predictor variables could enrich future quality of life research. Research Report This study explored the initial validation of a neuropsychological measure: the Short Parallel Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (SPANS), with a sample of 29 adults with ID and 29 typically-developing (TD) adults. Among TD samples, the SPANS ‘measures’ a range of cognitive domains such as memory and learning, attention/concentration, and conceptual flexibility. In ID test performances may contribute to increasing understanding and promoting personalisation of support. A mixed methods approach revealed that the SPANS appears to measure different constructs to the general population, and as hypothesised the TD outperformed the ID group in every domain. Interviews captured that participants generally enjoyed the SPANS, were reminded of daily tasks, and had a sense of awareness of their own abilities which impacted their confidence and performance. Critical Appraisal The critical appraisal details lessons learned from the research process and methodological reflections, along with commentary on personal and professional development.

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