Individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) are at higher risk for abuse than the general population. Increasing numbers of people with ID are living independently in the community with both its benefits and its risks. Many individuals with ID are subjected to physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. Some of the characteristics found in people with ID - short attention span, difficulties with abstract concepts, overly compliant personalities, learning and memory deficits -- increase the likelihood of abuse and its negative consequences. Given the unique learning needs of individuals with ID, there is a pressing need for abuse prevention programs specifically tailored for both men and women with ID. The goal of this project is to develop a comprehensive prevention program - Protect Yourself! Abuse Prevention for People with Intellectual Disabilities -- that will be designed specifically for this population and address their unique learning needs. In Phase I a prototype DVD will be developed that covered the first two units of the shared curriculum and the first unit of the Learning Partner training. In Phase II the complete interactive, multimedia DVD will be developed for use by people with ID and their learning partner (LP). The final comprehensive abuse prevention program will consist of nine modules based on research-based prevention approaches for this population the final product will be commercially packaged and include both video material on a DVD and an accompanying workbook. The completed program will be highly interactive and utilize concrete materials, use video models of appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, provide opportunities for role-playing of the materials, frequently repeat key concepts, and provide visual rather than text-based cues. A unique feature of the program will be the use of a learning partner (e.g., direct support staff, parent, advocate) to help the person with ID learn and practice the information provided in the program.
Research on abuse prevention is highly relevant to public health given the negative consequences of abuse. Individuals with ID are a population at risk for abuse due to many factors including their loneliness and need for social acceptance. There is a pressing need to develop abuse prevention materials for this group. By focusing on these individuals with ID, this program brings needed intervention tools for an underserved population.