[[People with disabilities face very specific challenges]]

, often contributing to victimization, including: • Increased risk, or perception of increased vulnerability • Lack of resources or support systems • Absolute dependence on an abusive partner or caregiver

Lack of independence in finances, housing, or transportation • Physical or social isolation Once victimized, barriers to the justice continue with: • Lower rates of police follow-up, prosecution, and conviction of perpetrators • Physical and cognitive barriers to the judicial system, including difficulties accessing courtrooms or other facilities if the crime is prosecuted • Mistaken belief that people with disabilities are untrustworthy or not credible as witnesses

• Speech and/or cognition difficulties

The statistics point to a high number of people being victimized, but a low number are requesting victim services: clearly, many victims with disabilities are not receiving—or do not have access to—crime victim services

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People with disabilities (sometimes referred to as self-advocates in the disability community) play an important role in educating criminal justice professionals that abuse can happen to anyone, at any time in their lives

but this is especially true for people with I/DD

personal safety plan

The name of a trusted person that will check in with you on a regular basis

Criminal justice professionals need to be able to talk openly about safety in ways that do not scare, overwhelm, or intimidate the person with a disability.

For example, an attorney can offer to slow down their communication and ask additional questions to confirm the victim understands what abuse means if the person seems confused. Criminal justice professionals need to know the types of violence that people with disabilities experience throughout their lives, such as physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, neglect, and financial exploitation. Knowing the signs and acknowledging when abuse is happening are the first steps to ending the epidemic

Research has shown that when people with I/DD live in segregated settings and attend

for Not Reporting Victimization

People with I/DD may not be able to tell someone when they are hurt by another person or persons. The reasons for not reporting include: • Not being educated about their rights • Fear of more abuse • Fear of not being believed • Fear of being blamed or punished • Fear of losing services • Fear of losing their home, job, family, or friends • Fear of telling on someone who has power over them • Being taught to go along with what others do to them

Assisting Victims with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Persons on the autism spectrum may: • Not understand their rights • Not understand what is expected of them • Not respond to verbal instruction • Run or move away when approached • Be unable to communicate with words • Only repeat what is said to them • Communicate with sign language, pictures or gestures, or use assistive technology to communicate • Avoid eye contact • Appear argumentative or stubborn • Say only “No!” or “Yes!” in response questions • Have difficulty judging personal space • Be overly sensitive to sensory input (e.g., flashing lights, sirens, crowds) • Have a decreased cognitive ability when experiencing heightened anxiety or frustration • Become anxious or agitated, producing fight or flight responses, or behaviors such as screaming, hand flapping, or self–injury • Appear to be under the influence of narcotics or intoxicants • Have an associated medical condition such as a seizure disorder • Be fixated on a particular object or topic and may ask repeated questions • Speak in a monotone voice with unusual pronunciations • Reverse pronouns (“Can I stop?” instead of “Can you stop?”) • Give misleading statements • Have problems speaking at the correct volume • May, if verbal, be honest to the point of bluntness or rudeness • Not be able communicate the extent of trauma due to a lack of understanding of healthy sexuality or appropriate boundaries in care provider or other relationships • Have the need for a Forensic Interviewer with knowledge of autism • Not understand the criminal justice system and the expectations to assist in prosecution

Source: OVC/ASA Crime Victims with Autism Assistance, Education, and Training Program

People with autism may exhibit any of the following behaviors in an encounter with those providing support—do not misinterpret actions as deliberate, disrespectful, or hostile.

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Have a decreased cognitive ability when experiencing heightened anxiety or frustration

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Give misleading statements

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Have the need for a Forensic Interviewer with knowledge of autism • Not understand the cr

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Addressing the Complex Communication Needs (CCN) of Victims with Disabilities

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When assisting crime victims with disabilities, the goal or any interview is to gather credible information. The following tips will help to ensure that the information provided by an individual with CCN is accurately understood by the interviewer. Helpful tips include: • Consider the environment. Whenever possible conduct the interview in a quiet space. Be aware of and try to avoid sounds created by copy machines, telephone, outside traffic, air conditioning/heating systems, tree branches brushing against a window, and voices outside interview room. • Fewer distractions help both the individual with CCN and the interviewer to focus on each other’s words. Sit facing the person. Try not to move around too much or create any distractions, such as: answering a cell phone; shuffling papers; standing up and down; and making facial expressions. • Begin the interview by introducing yourself, explaining your role and asking the individual with CCN what their name is, and ask what is the most comfortable way for the person to communicate with you. Find out how the person indicates “yes” and “no”, their ability to spell (e.g. to give you the first letter of a word you are having difficulty understanding). Learn what other strategies they typically use (e.g. a communication device) and make sure they have access to it during the interview. • If you don’t understand or aren’t sure what the person is saying, be sure to ask for clarification. Be comfortable with providing the individual with authentic feedback about what you have, or have not, understood. Ask “can you tell me another way”. • Be patient. Refrain from asking a question before the previous question is answered. Stay focused on the individual and pay attention to the individual’s body language. Consider conducting several short interviews, rather than a longer one. Remember there are resources and advocates who can help you in assisting crime victims with CCN. Consider contacting The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability™, your local chapter of The Arc, the Autism Society, United Cerebral Palsy Association, your state Office of Behavioral/Intellectual Disabilities, or other disability organizations who may be able to provide additional information and support.

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Trauma-Informed Care and Individuals with I/DD: How Symptoms of Trauma Manifest as Behavioral Issues

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refers to a state of agitation in which the individual is easily triggered into explosive behavior and is constantly ready for something horrible to occur, such as an attack, disaster, or betrayal.

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Call to Action for Criminal Justice Professionals

(report generated by GoodReader)

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