People with intellectual disability can experience difficulty recalling dates, times and sequences of events. In legal and court proceedings, it is important that officers take care to ensure that information is not considered inadmissible solely because a person’s statement or report contains apparent inconsistencies around time, dates and sequence of events. These inconsistencies may need to be considered in terms of the person’s intellectual disability, rather than in terms of vague, evasive or misleading evidence.
To check the client’s understanding, ask them to repeat the information back to you in their own words. Where possible, involve the client’s support networks (parent, support worker or significant other) in supporting you to give the client a consistent message and reinforce important information.
People with an intellectual disability may have difficulties concentrating for an extended period of time, and may need regular breaks when engaging in any form of cognitive activity (such as giving statements or evidence, or being cross-examined).
Dates and times of appointments or hearings may also be a problem for clients with intellectual disability. The client may need assistance to write dates and times in their diary and/or may need reminders close to appointments to remind them to come.