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Bergeron Attends Developmental Disability Training

Date: September 29, 2014 Categories: Blog

Brittney Bergeron, the Jefferson CAC’s Forensic Interviewer, recently attended a training to enhance her skills when interviewing children and adults with developmental disabilities. The “Children with Disabilities and Crime Victimization” training was held from July 28 – 29 in St. Martinsville and facilitated by Scott Modell, Ph.D., the Deputy Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Brittney said that some of the statistics presented during the training were startling.  She was surprised to learn that people with developmental disabilities are more than twice as likely as people without disabilities to be abused.  She was also saddened to learn that sexual abuse against a person with a developmental disability is only reported about 3% of the time, as well as the fact that 49% of people with developmental disabilities who are victimized sexually will experience ten or more abusive events.

Bergeron said that beyond statistics, there was a lot of practical information provided, that she feels will aid her in her work as a Forensic Interviewer.

“I definitely learned that when interviewing a person with a disability, it is good to have as much information as possible before going into the interview. I always talk to the caregiver about how to help make the child more comfortable and how best to respond to them. I did this in the past, but am going to do it even more now,” Brittney said.

Bergeron added that the training reinforced some of her other existing habits.

“When you’re interviewing a child with a disability, they often require more time to answer questions,” Brittney stated. She did this instinctively before the training, but plans to mindfully continue the practice, especially now that she knows how helpful it can be for people with disabilities.

Brittney said that the tendency to describe abilities according to a particular developmental age is not necessarily a good practice.  She learned that while there is a range for what is considered “typical” among children of a specific age, the same is true even among children without disabilities.  But, it is also important to remember that although a child may struggle in one domain, they do just fine or may even excel in others.

“Kids with Asperger’s might struggle with social interactions but be very capable otherwise,” Bergeron explained.