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Assessment and Treatment of PTSD in People with Intellectual Disabilities

  • Liesbeth MevissenEmail author
  • Robert Didden
  • Ad de Jongh
Reference work entry

Abstract

People with intellectual disabilities (ID) are more often exposed to potentially traumatic events than people without ID. Due to impairments in their cognitive and adaptive skills, processing adverse life events is supposed to be more difficult. This chapter contains an overview of the literature on the (1) manifestations and assessment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in people with ID and (2) treatment (i.e., trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy [TF-CBT] and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing [EMDR] therapy) of PTSD symptoms in people with ID. There is evidence to suggest that manifestations of PTSD in children with ID correspond with those in children without ID. To assess the effects of psychological trauma in children and to establish the diagnosis of PTSD, the Adapted ADIS-C PTSD Section appears to be a valid and reliable clinical interview. To determine the severity of PTSD symptoms in adults, two questionnaires with good psychometric properties are available (i.e., LANTS; IES-IDs). TF-CBT and EMDR therapy are the only psychotherapies recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the treatment of PTSD. However, the literature on the treatment of manifestations of PTSD in people with ID is limited to case reports showing positive outcomes. For persons with ID suffering from PTSD, EMDR therapy seems most suited, particularly considering its nonverbal character and the lack of need to do homework and practice outside the sessions. Controlled studies are needed to establish empirical support for PTSD treatments in this population at risk for the development of PTSD.

Keywords

Intellectual disabilities Trauma Life events EMDR therapy Trauma-focused CBT PTSD assessment PTSD treatment Autism 

List of Abbreviations

AAIDD

American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disability

ADIS-C

Anxiety disorder interview scale- children

ASD

Autism spectrum disorder

CBT

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

DM-ID

Diagnostic Manual-Intellectual Disability

DSM

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

EMDR

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing

ID

Intellectual disability (ID)

IES

Impact of Event Scale

IES-IDs

Impact of Event Scale-Intellectual Disabilities

LANTS

Lancaster and Northgate Trauma Scales

MBID

Mild to borderline intellectual disability

PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder

SUDs

Subjective Units of Disturbance scale

VoC

Validity of Cognition Scale

WHO

World Health Organization

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liesbeth Mevissen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert Didden
    • 2
  • Ad de Jongh
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Mental Health Organization (MHO) GGZ Friesland, Department De Swaai Youth, Center for Intellectual Disability and PsychiatryDrachtenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Behavioural Science InstituteRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Behavioral SciencesAcademic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA), University of Amsterdam and VU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.School of Health SciencesSalford UniversityManchesterUK

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