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Keywords:

  • alleged abuse;
  • challenging behaviour;
  • PTSD;
  • skills

Abstract

Background  People with intellectual disabilities (ID) are particularly vulnerable to abuse, and most incidents come to light through victim disclosure. Those people with severe or profound ID are not able to describe what has happened to them. This project aimed to describe the consequences of abuse and changes in behaviour following alleged abuse in 18 adults with severe ID.

Method  Family members or other carers were interviewed to collect information about the alleged abuse. They were also asked about the person's adaptive and challenging behaviours at three time points: in the 3 months immediately prior to the abuse (time 1), in the 3 months immediately after the abuse (time 2) and in the 3 months prior to interview (time 3).

Results  A typical pattern emerged for both adaptive and challenging behaviours: there were few problems or difficulties at time 1, major difficulties at time 2 and some recovery by time 3.

Conclusions  Evidence is mounting that clinicians considering the sequelae of abuse for people with severe or profound ID need to consider changes in adaptive and challenging behaviours, as well as the typical symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.