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The Revised Family Crisis Handbook: A Mental Health, Stabilization, and Wellness Toolkit is an MHDD toolkit for families and people with disabilities.
The Road to Recovery: Supporting Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Who Have Experienced Trauma is a training manual to help people with developmental disabilities navigate and overcome trauma.
The Skills System is a user-friendly set of emotion regulation skills, designed to help people of various ages and abilities, manage emotions. Learning how to regulate emotions enables us to be present in the moment and be more effective–even in stressful situations. Over- and under-reacting can cause more stress and problems. The Skills System helps us be aware of our current moment, think through the situation, and take goal-directed actions that align with our values.
The Vital Role of Specialized Approaches: Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the Mental Health System is training material used to describe the co-occurrence of mental health and developmental disabilities, current trends, resources, policy recommendations, and much more.
Training for professionals providing services to people with co-occurring mental health and disabilities.
Toolkit for Educators: Educating Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder & Mental Health Challenges is for educators that want to learn more about working with Autistic students who also experience mental health concerns.
Transition is when a student moves from high school to adult life. For students with disabilities, the law requires students with disabilities prepare for life after high school by having a plan (called a transition IEP) when a student is turns 16. The transition IEP must have goals for getting a job, college or training, and daily living. These goals match the student’s strengths, interests, wants, and support needs. The student’s education, related services (like therapy) and community activities also help reach their goals
The school has provided students their education, job training, job supports, and therapies. However, after graduating from high school, those services end. There is no single agency that will provide the full range of services given by the school. To receive help, transition-age youth must be eligible. Each agency has an application and eligibility process. For many students and families, this is a confusing process and requires help from the school and agency staff. Because the adult agencies’ process can take months, students need to apply before leaving school. To work together, each person should know each other’s role and responsibilities.
Roles and Responsibilities
Students should always be included in meetings about their education, healthcare, and services. Students should lead a person-centered planning (PCP) process to find their strengths, interests, wants and needs. The school can help the students decide their goals for work, school, and living. In most states when a youth with a disability reaches 18, they are legally responsible for making their own decisions. As an adult, they must agree to parents/guardians joining their meetings and appointments.
A parent/guardian’s role should be to advocate for a child’s quality of life. They know their child’s strengths, interests, wants, and needs. When the youth is under 18, parents have to apply for needed resources in their child’s name such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid Insurance, Medicaid Waivers, and Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Parents may also help their child by getting training at a Center for Independent Living, purchasing a bus pass, and getting a state identification card.
The VRC’s role is to provide career counseling and information about work. The VRC may help the student figure out what they want to do after high school. The VRC may offer Pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS). Any student with a disability may get Pre-ETS to explore careers and get ready for working.
If a student receives a Medicaid Waiver, they will choose a case manager. The case manager will develop a plan with the transition-age youth to access community-based services and have the supports they needed for a meaningful quality of life. Based on the budget, the services may include in-home supports, daily living skills, long-term job supports, volunteer work, and others.
For more information and to see a table of Transition-Related Agencies with resource links, please read the full Transition and Collaboration Fact Sheet.
Trauma is when a person experiences an event, series of events, or situation that causes lasting negative effects. The traumatic event or situation is viewed by the person as being physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening. People with disabilities have a greater risk of experiencing trauma, because they are more likely to experience unfair treatment. Negative effects from trauma can include changes to a person’s mental, physical, social, emotional and/or spiritual well-being. Some effects of trauma can be depression, changes in behavior, headaches, nausea, and more.
Not everyone who experiences trauma is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because people experience trauma differently. PTSD is a mental health diagnosis that means the person’s day-to-day life is affected by the trauma. Trauma can have a lasting impact on a person but does not always affect daily living.
Trauma-informed care means using information about how trauma affects people to provide them better treatment. Communication is a major challenge in understanding trauma and providing trauma-informed care to people with disabilities. It can be hard to understand a person’s needs if they have trouble putting them into words. Including caregivers in treatment can help because they can say what they think the person with a disability is experiencing. It is also important to talk to the person with a disability, because they know their experience the best.
Many professionals are not given training about how to work with people with disabilities who have also had trauma. There is a limited number of mental health workers across the country. So, the number of workers with the knowledge to help people with disabilities work through their trauma is even more limited.
Efforts are being made to improve the quality of trauma-informed care. There are organizations, such as The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (www.nctsn.org), that are working to improve care for people with disabilities who have experienced trauma. Also, some states are trying to become ‘Trauma Informed States’ which are working to improve their trauma-informed services. Consider reaching out to state officials if your state is not a ‘Trauma Informed State’. You can also reach out to healthcare workers to consider people with developmental disabilities and their care.
Read the full Trauma-Informed Care for People with Developmental Disabilities fact sheet
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