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Resources on Trauma-informed Care for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities


The following resources are supplemental to my presentation on "How to Provide a Trauma-informed Care" to individuals with Developmental Disabilities.


Introduction: 1 in 6 individuals are diagnosed with a developmental disability (DD). Some DDs include Down's Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Intellectual Disabilities, Cerebral Palsy, Rett's Syndrome, Attention Hyperactivity Deficit Disorder (ADHD), and Fragile-X Syndrome.


This population is at a high risk for experiencing childhood trauma as well as trauma during adolescence and adulthood. Providing a Trauma-informed approach to care is highly valuable in fostering positive health outcomes and good quality of life.


Journal Articles:

  • Guest, J. D., & Ohrt, J. H. (2018). Utilizing child-centered play therapy with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and endured trauma: A case example. International Journal of Play Therapy, 27(3), 157–165. https://doi.org/10.1037/pla0000074

  • Hoch, J. D., & Youssef, A. M. (2020). Predictors of Trauma Exposure and Trauma Diagnoses for Children with Autism and Developmental Disorders Served in a Community Mental Health Clinic. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 50(2), 634–649. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-04331-3

  • Kildahl, A. N., Helverschou, S. B., & Oddli, H. W. (2020). Clinicians’ retrospective perceptions of failure to detect sexual abuse in a young man with autism and mild intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 45(2), 194–202. https://doi.org/10.3109/13668250.2019.168082

  • Lobregt-van Buuren, E., Sizoo, B., Mevissen, L., & de Jongh, A. (2019). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy as a Feasible and Potential Effective Treatment for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and a History of Adverse Events. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 49(1), 151–164. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3687-6

  • Morgart, K., Harrison, J. N., Hoon, A. H., Jr, & Wilms Floet, A. M. (2021). Adverse childhood experiences and developmental disabilities: risks, resiliency, and policy. Developmental medicine and child neurology, 63(10), 1149–1154. https://doi.org/10.1111/dmcn.14911

  • Parr, J. R., Brice, S., Welsh, P., Ingham, B., Le Couteur, A., Evans, G., Monaco, A., Freeston, M., & Rodgers, J. (2020). Treating anxiety in autistic adults: study protocol for the Personalised Anxiety Treatment-Autism (PAT-A©) pilot randomised controlled feasibility trial. Trials, 21(1), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-020-4161-2

  • Rich, A. J., DiGregorio, N., & Strassle, C. (2021). Trauma-informed care in the context of intellectual and developmental disability services: Perceptions of service providers. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 25(4), 603–618. https://doi.org/10.1177/1744629520918086

  • Reese, Shannonlee BSN, RN, FNE1; Deutsch, Stephanie Anne MD, MS, FAAP2. Sexual Assault Victimization Among Children and Youth With Developmental Disabilities: Responding With Trauma-Informed Care. Journal of Forensic Nursing: 1/3 2020 - Volume 16 - Issue 1 - p 55-60 doi: 10.1097/JFN.0000000000000278

  • Rimmer, J. H., Yamaki, K., Lowry, B. M. D., Wang, E., & Vogel, L. C. (2010). Obesity and obesity-related secondary conditions in adolescents with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 54(9), 787–794. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2788.2010.01305.x

  • Santoro, A. F., Shear, S. M., & Haber, A. (2018). Childhood adversity, health and quality of life in adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 62(10), 854–863. https://doi.org/10.1111/jir.12540

  • Zablotsky, B., & Black, L. I. (2020). Prevalence of Children Aged 3-17 Years With Developmental Disabilities, by Urbanicity: United States, 2015-2018. National Health Statistics Reports, 139, 1–7.

Trauma Informed Care for Behavior Analysts:

Tips for finding Trauma-informed Providers

  • Shared decision making with their patients / clients

  • Listens to voices of the population they serves

  • Understands that psychology, ABA, and other systems have a history of doing harm to this population and ensures that their practices do not harm their patients

  • Promotes autonomy and acknowledges patient consent and assent

  • Is collaborative, person-centered, and individualized.

  • Promotes cultural safety and psychological safety

Other resources:

For additional information or a consultation on how to ensure your providing trauma-informed care to the individuals you serve, please reach out to me at ptpablo@symphonybh.com


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About Pauline Tolentino Pablo

Pauline is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst experienced in providing Applied Behavior Analysis  services to individuals on the autism spectrum and/or diagnosed with developmental delays. She  is currently enrolled in a Doctor of Behavioral Health program at Cummings Graduate Institute. 

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© 2020 By Pauline Pablo, MA, BCBA

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"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman."

- Martin Luther King

- Martin Luther King

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