Treating Traumatic Stress Disorders in Children with Developmental Disabilities

November 06, 2014, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Research suggests that children with developmental disabilities (DDs), including autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities, are more likely than their typically developing peers to be assaulted or maltreated (Sullivan, 2009, Turner et al., 2011). For example, children with special healthcare needs may be bullied at a rate 1.5 to 2 times more than non-impaired youth (van Cleave & Davis, 2006). However, there is relatively little research, writing or service provision designed specifically for children with co-occurring trauma and DDs (Mevissen & de Jongh, 2010).

Identification can be difficult as children with developmental or intellectual delays may have trouble reporting traumatic events and their effects. Caregivers and treatment providers struggle to discriminate between DD-related behavior and trauma-related symptoms (Mazefsky, Kao, & Oswald, 2011). Provision of trauma-informed care requires an understanding of the prevalence of trauma and its effects on children. Putting this into practice includes routinely screening for trauma exposure and related symptoms, using culturally appropriate evidence-based assessment and treatment, and providing education to families and providers about trauma exposure, its impact, and treatment. All of this should be delivered while minimizing the possibility for further trauma during the treatment process; essentially, “doing no harm” (NCTSN, 2007).

A trauma-informed approach to care has yet to be translated consistently into work with disabled children (Mevissen et al., 2011) but adaptations are being made to existing models to treat this population. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT) is one example of an effective practice with potential for accommodating youth with developmental delays or differences (Grosso, 2012). Others are suggested or are well suited for adaptation, including Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT; Charlton & Dykstra, 2011).

Facilitator: Daniel Hoover, Ph.D., ABPP

This presentation will have a three-pronged focus: reviewing the literature on trauma in developmentally disabled children, discussing dual diagnosis of trauma and DD and giving practical strategies for applying a trauma-informed treatment approach to children with DDs.

For More Information

Registration fee is $180. For more information and to register for this training, click on the event page.

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