Whether police, fire or an EMT, you are likely to engage a person with an intellectual or developmental disability in your daily routine. They are often victims of crimes, are often bullied and at times can become confused and get themselves into different forms of trouble.
People with intellectual disabilities may include people with Down syndrome, Autism, Fragile X syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). As a first responder, you are encouraged to make a special effort to be patient in communicating with people with intellectual disabilities.
Here are a few tips:
- Find a quiet area free from distractions
- Speak directly to the person
- Use short sentences and simple language
- Speak slowly and clearly
- Do not touch the person
- Take time giving or asking for information (Wait a 5 or 10 count for responses)
Remember, if the person is adult age, treat them like an adult regardless of mental ability. Don’t assume that someone is “totally incapable” of understanding, but be willing to slow down when communicating. Seek assistance from a disability advocate or agency when possible.
For more information, download this flyer: http://www.thearc.org/file/documents_initiatives_nccjd/NCCJDFactSheet_ID-Copyrightd–BJA.pdf
View training videos at http://www.thearc.org/NCCJD/training/videos