Give Your Support

ACEs and Developmental Disabilities

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are at greater risk of abuse and neglect than is the general population. This should be an alarm call alerting all committed disability advocates to learn about ACEs and take steps to make the IDD services field more ACE- and trauma-informed. A number of disability advocates from various disciplines have already taken major steps to prevent the maltreatment of children with IDD and implement trauma-informed programs for people with IDD. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. 

Before we get started, we first need to get informed. The following are some great, informative resources to start out with:

  • ACEs and Developmental Disabilities - A comprehensive PowerPoint overview of ACEs, trauma, and IDD by Steve Marcal, Psy.D.

  • The Road to Recovery - A training toolkit from NCTSN designed for providers helping children with IDD who have experienced trauma.

  • Disability Justice - Additional information regarding the abuse and exploitation of individuals with developmental disabilities.


A Toolkit for Providers Who Work with Adults with IDD and Trauma

This trauma-informed toolkit is made possible by the collaborative support of the HEARTS Initiative. See below for a summary of what this toolkit contains:

Chapter 1: Self-Care

  • Offers information and a guide for direct support professionals to enhance their self care.
  • Shares suggestions and resources for staff who may come to the work with their own trauma history, suffer from direct trauma in their work, or experience vicarious trauma.
  • Contains self-care exercises, with heavy emphasis on mindfulness, for personal or training purposes.

Chapter 2: ACEs and Trauma

  • Provides brief background information regarding the problem of ACEs in people with IDD.
  • Highlights evidence that the problem of ACEs and other large and small traumas are magnified further in the field of developmental disabilities.

Chapter 3: Behavioral Planning

  • Provides guidance for trauma-informed behavioral planning.
  • Emphasizes the need for special understanding when conducting Functional Behavioral Analysis for people with a trauma history.
  • Critical elements needed in planning for people with a trauma history are delineated.
  • Includes a sample “trauma-informed” support plan for further guidance.

Chapter 4: Administrative Guidance

  • Helps guide agency leaders and quality assurance staff in minimizing restrictive interventions, providing training to staff sensitizing them to trauma related care needs, and overseeing the care provided by direct support professionals and clinicians.
  • Proposes the Restorative Integral Support (RIS) framework as a method to help leaders develop approaches that will best fit their agency.