“I have suffered real abuse. Really if it were not for my mom and my therapist pleading for me, I would have retreated into my world. When the bad thing  happened I wanted to  die. Greatly  my mom and therapist  found  a way to help  me grow  from this  experience. I learned  that  there  were really bad people that could do things  to your  body,  but I learned that  you don’t have to let them into your soul.”  – a young man with autism.

Although data on abuse of adults with disabilities is scarce, research on children with disabilities finds that they become victims of abuse at 3.4 times the rate of children who do not have disabilities (Sullivan,T. and Knutson, D., 2001).  While many agree that abuse occurs more, those who specialize in the field of abuse & disability believe that for both children and adults, increased victimization is more likely 10 times the rate than for those without disabilities.

Dr. Nora BaladerianAccording to Nora Baladerian, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist practicing both clinical and forensic psychology, children with disabilities have many of the same needs as any other child, for education, family, safety, recreation, among many others.  Most parents of children with disabilities receive information and guidance on these aspects of life, but nearly none on the problems of child abuse, sexual assault, molestation, or other types of maltreatment that they may experience.  Knowledge is power, and when parents and other family members are aware that their child (or adult family member) who has a significant disability is more likely to be targeted for abuse than other children, they are more likely to implement the risk reduction strategies available to them.

This is one of the reasons Autism College has partnered with the National Autism Association to put on a free online conference, Autism Safety and Crisis Prevention. This series of  webinars is sponsored in part by The Social Express.  Dr. Nora Baladerian will present on: How can parents reduce the risk of sexual abuse of their children (as adults or children)?,  on Saturday, February 11, 8:15am PST – 9:45am PST (11:15am EST – 12:45pm EST)

The webinar will be interactive. There will be an opportunity for those signed up to send in questions ahead of time or while listening to the program. Chantal Sicile-Kira will moderate the Q & A.  To register for free, go here. For more information about the other webinars included in this conference, go here. Instructions will be sent to those signed up. (For those who wish to purchase transcripts, they will be made available after the conference.)

Dr. Baladerian’s presentation  How can parents reduce the risk of sexual abuse of their children (as adults or children)? will focus on the basics all parents should know about sexual abuse among individuals on the Autism Spectrum. Topics to be included include:

  • You know your child. How can you prepare your child for this particular danger?
  • How can you prepare yourself to be not only their educator, but to be a part of an overall strategy to reduce the risk of becoming a victim?
  • This presentation will discuss the basics of being a knowledgeable parent in the area of sexual abuse, including knowing the signs of possible abuse, designing a plan, and developing a protocol to use for all new persons who you will approve or hire to work with your family.

Nora Baladerian, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in Los Angeles, California, practicing both clinical and forensic psychology . Since 1971, long before the crime victimization field as a whole focused attention on the needs of persons with disabilities, she has specialized in working with individuals with developmental disabilities. With an expertise in serving crime victims with disabilities and people charged with victimless sex crimes, she has successfully rallied victim/witness organization leaders, crime victims rights advocates, social service professionals, forensic psychologists, law enforcement, attorneys, members of the judiciary, and others to take up the cause of ensuring that the needs of society’s most vulnerable are not overlooked or otherwise forgotten. In 1986, as a proactive way both to bring together the growing number of those dedicated to this work and promoting greater cross-disciplinary dialog, she began convening national conferences on abuse of individuals with disabilities, hosting the 19th in 2005 with The Arc of Riverside County, and the First Online Professional Conference of its kind that same year. In 2008, the Attorney General of the United States presented her with the National Crime Victims Service Award in recognition of her pioneering efforts on behalf of persons with disabilities and in advancement of the mission of the Office for Victims of Crime of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Many thanks to our sponsor, The Social Express,

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