Conducting the Interview


1) Before the Interview

   a) Gather information

      i) How will the child's ability effect his/her participation in the interview?

      ii) What circumstances-people, skills, and environment- will best invite the competence

           of this child?

      iii) IQ scores, functional assessments, age or grade equivalence

            (1) Be aware of scatter skills

            (2) Consider life experience

      iv) Other needs

            (1) Adaptive equipment

            (2) Sensory or attention needs

            (3) Time of day

            (4) Reliance on routine

       v) Communication skills

           (1) Expressive/receptive

           (2) Processing/pacing

           (3) Behavioral/emotional indicators

     vi) Communication aids

           (1) Interpreters

                (a) Certified Deaf Interpreter

                (b) Pre-meeting-establish expectations

                (c) Ask family about name signs/consider pictures

                (d) Use focused questions

                (e) Using dolls may be helpful

                (f) Consider cognit1ve abilities and language development

          (2) Augmentative vs. facilitative aids

               (a) Augmentative Communication

               (b) Facilitated Communication

    b) Information Sources

       i) Collaterals

          (1) Parents, school personnel, day care providers, service providers

          (2) Maintain professional connections

              (a) Psychologists, Behavior Analysts, Special education professionals, Linguists, Speech pathologists

          (3) Read the literature

    c) Remember ...

       i) This will take longer

       ii) Don't be afraid to depart from your routine

       iii) What's good for the child is good for the case!

2) During the Interview

   a) Tips

      i) Engage in an ongoing developmental screening

      ii) Allow extra time to build rapport/screen

      iii) Be aware that social skills may outpace cognitive skills

      iv) Use reassurance, praise effort but not specific content

      v) Clarify the purpose (the forensic interview is not a test)

      vi) Explore the issue of consent when appropriate

      vii) Ask developmentally appropriate questions

           (1) Be aware of scatter skills

           (2) Be aware of the impact of life experience

           (3) Question types

  b) Question Types

     i) Challenges to Providing Information

        (1) Detailed recall difficult

             (a) Error of omission

        (2) Information accessibility issues

             (a) Retrieval

        (3) Limited communication skills

    ii) Memory for real vs. imagined events

        (1) Compared to non-disabled intellectual peers

        (2) All children performed better when:

            (a) Asked about real events

            (b) Asked open-ended questions

            (c) Interviewed immediately

       (3) Performance equal by 2nd interview

       (4) Recommend to:

           (a) Evaluate responses in terms of cognitive, not chronological age

   iii) Open Ended Questions

       (1) Produce less, but more accurate information

       (2) Rely on open-ended questions whenever possible

       (3) 10 children did not provide significantly less information than CA or more than DA groups

   iv) Specific Questions

        (1) Children with mild disabilities

            (a) Performed worse in response to specific probing questions when compared to CA but not DA

    v) Yes/No Questions

         (1) Significantly more likely to present "yes" bias

         (2) Lower IQ=more risk

         (3) Substitute multiple choice questions

         (4) Concrete and immediate topic=less risk

         (5) Bias appeared most common when question not understood

   vi) Multiple Choice Questions

         (1) Pictures can reduce primacy/recency bias

   vii) Misleading Questions

         (1) Child with mild disabilities

             (a) More suggestible than CA but not DA

   viii) Repeat Questions:

         (1) Children with disabilities

             (a) " ... repeating questions on a second Interview lead to more changed responses than in either the [DA] or the CA groups."

   ix) Recommendations

       (1) Questions:

            (a) Simple and concrete

            (b) Rely on open-ended whenever poss1ble

            (c) Assess for response bias to yes/no and multiple choice; avoid if necessary

            (d) Avoid repeat questions whenever possible and provide appropriate instructions:

                 (i) "If I ask you the same question more than once, it doesn't mean you gave the wrong answer. I just want to be sure I understand."

                (ii) "If I ask you a question and you don't know the answer, it's okay to say'” don't know'."

           (e) Increase use of:

                (i) Person's name

               (ii) Sensory questions

 c) If you run into trouble ...

    i) Be more flexible about taking breaks

    ii) If necessary, use multi-session interviews

    iii) Decide when and if you can end the interview

    iv) Rely on your team to guide you

     v) Attempt to bring the child back under better circumstances if possible

3) After the Interview

   a) Recommendations:

      i) Medical examinations may be important

      ii) Be open to seeking clarification

         (1) Who can be helpful in interpreting what the child has said, signed, or drawn?

      iii) Learn from this interview

          (1) What went well?

          (2) What could have gone better?

      iv) Identify & address how the child's special needs may affect the entire investigation

       v)  Refer for appropriate services

4) The Court Process

    a) Understanding Court

        i) 40% of the developmentally disabled participants also reported involvement in court (witnesses, victims, or defendants)

        ii) " ... there is a great need for education and support of individuals with DO to assist them through the legal process."

   b) Competency in Court

        i) Ability to understand the oath

        ii) Recommendations for a developmentally friendly oath

   c) Courtroom Advocacy

       i) Trial prep is essential

      ii) Collateral contact with professionals

      iii) Introduce child to courtroom

      iv) Explain procedure (developmentally appropriate)

      v) Practice with child

      vi) Allow for support person

      vii) Frequent breaks

      viii) Advocate for child-friendly questioning

       ix) Utilize experts when necessary

ComerHouse (2011). Advanced On-Site Forensic Interview Training Manual: Victims and witnesses who have developmental disabilities faculty lecture.