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Monday 24 September 2018
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People with disabilities more vulnerable to abuse

Children's Authority chairman Hanif Benjamin
Children's Authority chairman Hanif Benjamin

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are more likely to be exposed to trauma, says Clinical Therapist and Clinical Traumatologist Hanif Benjamin.

Benjamin is also chairman of the Children’s Authority.

"Studies conducted in 2012 on interviewed individuals with IDD showed,70 per cent said that they had been sexually, physically, or financially abused, and 90 per cent said that abuse was ongoing.

However, only 37 per cent reported the abuse for fear that nothing would be done.

"How do you tell if a particular symptom or behaviour is evidence of the disability or related to trauma exposure?" Benjamin questioned.

Speaking with Newsday on the occasion of World Down syndrome Day on Wednesday, Benjamin said, "Many trauma-related symptoms can mirror behaviour typical of IDD.

For example, severe self-injury is often assumed to be related to more primitive developmental level when, in fact, it may be a way to manage intolerable feelings or memories stemming from cues of past trauma."

Benjamin said from the psychological and clinical needs of children and adults living with IDD, and from a clinical therapist and clinical traumatologist, "I can tell you trauma is real whether you are normal or not, the impact of trauma is real."

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