Inclusion is moving away from the traditional Behavior Modification model which is based on an inherent belief that persons with Intellectual Disabilities have “behavioral issues” in order to gain some outcome, or to manipulate a situation. This flawed approach results in poor outcomes, ignores choice, denigrates the person to which it is applied, and ignores the true needs of the person. Instead, we are embracing the implementation of a Trauma Informed Approach to address the real issues, and empower individuals to have power over their lives.
Trauma is defined as the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that over whelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences. We recognize that most individuals with intellectual disabilities have experienced some level of trauma, and demonstrate trauma based responses due to the impact of their experiences. Trauma inflicted on persons with intellectual disabilities can be the result of institutionalization, abuse, societal separation, bullying, and the use of models of behavioral intervention. The use of the behavior modification approach has historically been anything from restraints, to the use of a reward system. The use of restraints is the more obvious source of trauma. But, the use of other behavior modification techniques has been underestimated, and can result in significant trauma. Placing the power and control over someone’s even most simple life choices by implementing reward and punishment systems that are carried out by employees with their own history of traumas and preconceived notions and ideas absolutely diminishes their sense of self, and by design cause feelings of helplessness.
We, at Inclusion, want to equip our Professionals, and Direct Support Personnel with a better way to interact with individuals with Intellectual Disabilities. With a Trauma Informed Intervention approach relationships become paramount, and control though reinforcement and punishment becomes unnecessary. When the critical elements of a Trauma Informed approach are in place, negative outcomes diminish, and positive, happy experiences flourish. We are dedicating ourselves to this approach through implementation of a an encompassing plan from training to goals on plans.