MHDD Fact Sheets​

Self-Determination & Dignity of Risk Fact Sheet ...
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Everyone experiences stress. Difficult situations can bring on negative emotions and sometimes feel like too much. People do not always ...
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As people get older, they have a higher chance of having disabilities. People that already have one or more disabilities ...
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People who experience dual diagnosis are people who experience a developmental disability and a mental health concern. It is a ...
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Developmental disabilities are conditions that affect an individual’s physical, intellectual, and behavioral abilities throughout a person’s life. Families raising a ...
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Featured Resources​

Trauma-Informed Care for People with Developmental Disabilities

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 (, 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

Understanding Dual Diagnosis: Intellectual Disability and Mental Health

The goal of this course is to raise awareness about the issues surrounding dual diagnosis, to present some typical and atypical signs of mental illnesses that may arise in this population, and to highlight how your interactions with individuals—whatever your role may be—can contribute to better supports for individuals

Universal Design

Plain Language Summary: Universal Design

Most people will have a disability during their lifetime or will know someone who does. Also, the way we interact with the world can be affected in many ways. Some examples are breaking a bone, being pregnant, or not being able to focus in a noisy environment. This is why universal design benefits everyone. Universal design means making products and environments that people of different ages, sizes, or disability status can use. Some examples of universal design are captioned videos and automatic sliding doors. However, universal design applies to more than objects. Programs and education can also be universally designed. For example, using a variety of teaching and instructional methods can help more people learn.

Universal design applies to mental health too. A person’s mental health struggles can affect how they interact with their environment. For example, a student with anxiety may have trouble engaging and learning in school. One recommendation is using universally designed mental health programming in schools. This can mean teaching all students coping strategies, which helps reduce stigma too. Also, not everyone has equal access to mental health resources. A person’s language skills, income level, and other personal characteristics can limit resources.

There are seven universal design principles that can help when planning a product, program, or environment.

  1. Equitable Use: Is the design useful and usable for people with a wide range of abilities?
  2. Flexibility in Use: Does the design consider people’s individual preferences? One example is letting people choose their own pace.
  3. Simple and Intuitive: Is the design usable by people with different levels of experience?
  4. Perceptible Information: Is information communicated in an effective way for a range of people?
  5. Tolerance for Error: Does the design have prompts to help people avoid errors when using it?
  6. Low Physical Effort: Can your design be used comfortably and effectively by people with a wide range of physical characteristics?
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use: Does the size of your product and amount of space given, allow for people to use it? Some factors to consider are people’s posture and mobility.

The University of Washington’s DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Center website has a process you can follow when using universal design. There are also additional resources about universal design in education and software.

On the CAST website, you can find guidelines about using universal design with teaching. These guidelines are available in multiple languages and can be found on the CAST’s downloads page.

Also, the Web Accessibility Initiative’s Introduction to Web Accessibility has information on how to make a website accessible. This site offers many resources and is available in Spanish. You can translate the information into other languages by using a tool at the top of their page.

Read the full Universal Design fact sheet.

Unlocking and Treating Depression in Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

A powerpoint presentation of information about adults with depression and disabilities including guiding principles for practitioners.

What Do NCI Data Reveal About People Who Are Dual Diagnosed with ID and Mental Illness?

The understanding that people can be dually diagnosed with intellectual disability (ID) and mental illness is relatively recent. Up until the last 30 to 40 years, it was assumed that people with ID could not also have a mental illness, and behavioral challenges were seen as a consequence of cognitive limitations rather than possible symptoms of underlying psychiatric conditions.

Youth Suicide Intervention and Prevention Plan

A suicide intervention and prevention plan from the Oregon Health Authority intended for the general population but with mention of screening for people with disabilities.

green and blue logo for mental health and developmental disability natinoal training center

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