Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) and/or gender diversity are at higher risk of experiencing trauma. Provider knowledge is lacking; trauma, disability, and LGBTQ+ resources are often siloed; and few providers screen for trauma in this population. This paper describes the design, delivery, and initial evaluation of Project ATTAIN (Access to Trauma-informed Treatment and Assessment for Neurodivergent and/or Gender-expansive Youth).

ATTAIN is an ongoing 5-year state-wide initiative aiming to assess readiness to engage in new roles and practices over time; provide state-wide training and consultation in trauma, disability, and LGBTQ+-informed practices; install screening and assessment of trauma exposure and PTSD and quality of life into IDD and gender service settings; and include people with lived experience. A readiness assessment identified pre-training gaps between role responsibilities and practice engagement across five professional sectors serving our target population (n=39) in LGBTQ+-, disability-, and trauma-informed practices. We learned that specific sectors would benefit from introductory training to increase buy-in and promote role expansion; others would benefit from advanced instruction and implementation support. So far, we have trained 966 unique providers in trauma-informed care and have seen changes in the attitudes or perspectives of participants. Participants were highly satisfied with our provided training and saw increased knowledge across training. We screened 49 people in an IDD service setting for PTSD and quality of life. Two people with lived experience are active members of our research team, participating in project planning, training delivery, and manuscript authorship.

Individuals who work with IDD and/or gender-diverse youth would benefit from increased training to expand their knowledge on LGBTQ+-, disability-, and trauma-informed practices. In year three, we intend to continue outreach and evidence-informed training focused on the intersection of trauma, IDD, and gender diversity. Ongoing evaluation of our outreach, training, and screening efforts will continue to inform program activities.

Plain Language Summary

Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) and/or gender diversity are at risk for experiencing scary or frightening events. Finding a treatment that can help with stress or trauma and support gender diversity or IDD can be hard. Our program called Project ATTAIN aims to teach providers to help children and families living with stress or trauma, IDD, and/or gender diversity.

We have psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, direct care staff, and people with lived experience on our project team. We also have an advisory board that includes service providers, people with lived experience, and guardians. ATTAIN wants to provide trauma-, disability-, and LGBTQ+-informed training to people who work with people with IDD and/or gender diversity. We want doctors to ask about trauma and quality of life more often. We want to include IDD and gender-diverse people in our work.

We surveyed 39 people who work with people with IDD and/or gender diversity. We asked them about their knowledge of trauma-, disability-, and LGBTQ+-informed practices. We trained 966 people in trauma-informed care practices. We screened 49 people within our IDD services for trauma. Our project included two people with lived experience in research. We found that people who work with IDD and/or gender-diverse youth need training to help expand the practices they use at their jobs. We will continue to track our work on outreach, training, and screening efforts as the program continues.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.



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