Establishing Rapport

  1. Be sure and establish a solid, positive rapport….no different than with any other child.  Just remember, that their exposure to these kinds of interviewing situations will usually be very limited; and sometimes, because of the nature of their disability, unfamiliar people, wording, lighting, and/or places can really “throw them off”….so they have to become comfortable to not only YOU, but their SURROUNDINGS. TAKE THE TIME needed to allow both you and the individual to reach a “comfort level”.
  2. Provide a series of questions that are “neutral” in content that can help establish whether the child really understands you, or whether additional adaptations are needed. IT IS IMPORTANT TO DO THIS WITH ALL INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE DISABILITIES, not just for those who have more communication challenges.

Skilled interviewers use a variety of questions, so keep the above issues in mind.


  1. Where do you live?
  2. Do you have any brothers or sisters?  Cousins?
  3. Is your brother-sister-cousin older or younger than you are?
  4. What does your house-apartment-room look like?
  5. Where do you go to school-work?  (Some older students are involved in “work sites”.)
  6. What is your teacher or boss’ name?
  7. Do you have a favorite television show? When is it on?
  8. How old are you? When is your birthday?
  9. Do you remember what you did for fun this weekend?  Did you do it with someone?
  10. What are some things you like to do?

Check which questions, if any, the interviewee had trouble with. Is there a pattern?
These types of questions can assist in defining more clearly the nature of the disability and how it might impact cognitive, language, memory and/or social-emotional functioning.