Trauma-Informed Care for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: From Disparity to Policies for Effective Action.

Peer-reviewed article
(2022 Sep) Perspect Behav Sci, 46 67-87


Houck EJ, Dracobly JD


People with intellectual disabilities (ID) are an often overlooked minority population. They experience significant health disparities and a high risk of exposure to traumatic events that can lead to stress-related disorders. Access to effective treatments for stress-related disorders is limited for people with ID due to a lack of appropriate assessments and common communication deficits. We discuss and analyze four factors that have led to these disparities: (1) historical segregation; (2) society's response to identification of trauma in vulnerable populations; (3) lack of accessible assessments and treatments for stress disorders in people with ID; and (4) communication deficits common in people with ID. Based on this analysis, we suggest behavior analysts advocate for policy development that would (1) increase acknowledgement of trauma in people with ID and mandate sharing of information about trauma across providers; (2) require observable and measurable goals be included in the assessment and treatment of trauma-related behavior change; and (3) increase funding for services and research in this area.