CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS WITH DISABILITIES: Responding to Abuse
Be as alert to signs and symptoms that are suggestive of maltreatment and abuse in children and adolescents with disabilities as you are to those without disabilities. These signs in children and adolescents with disabilities are commonly misinterpreted, ignored, or misunderstood. In addition, medical providers may feel reluctant to suspect a family that is well known to them. However, if abuse is suspected, a report must be made to the State Central Register. For more information about reporting, see REPORTING: How to Make a Report.
If maltreatment is suspected, refer children and adolescents with disabilities to a specialized center for evaluation where their special needs can be accommodated. The forensic interview should be conducted by or in consultation with someone with disabilities training. Avoid using interpreters, including ASL interpreters, who are family members, are from the school or agency where the abuse took place, or are unfamiliar with a forensic interview.
If law enforcement and CPS become involved, be available to help them understand the child/adolescent's needs, including health care, medication, and communication. In addition, provide information about the disability and advice regarding developmental processes and abilities.