Caring For Individuals With ID/DD Concerns

Topic: Caring for Intellectually and/or Developmentally Disabled persons

Caring for persons with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (ID/DD) is challenging during the best of times, and even more so during COVID-19.  ID/DD individuals have varying degrees of understanding, and a limited ability to comprehend spoken or written words, however, they have some of the same feelings as other persons (i.e., concern over the unknown, how long this change in routine will last, and what will life be after the event).

Persons with ID/DD also tend to be more accepting of change, particularly for those who have been dependent upon others all of their lives. Acceptance to lack of socialization is often times a way of life for a person with ID/DD; hence, things like “stay at home” directives will generally be well received, if communicated in a manner the person can understand.

If the ID/DD person also has multiple complexities (i.e., cognitive, hearing impairment and mobility impairment), the communication needs to be in words or pictures on the level they can comprehend. For example, a person who is 10 years old chronologically, but only 7 years cognitively and unable to hear, will need different communication tools than that same person without a hearing impairment. Use the same communication tools you have used in the past, or find another appropriate one that works. Communication is still essential even though you might think the person cannot understand or comprehend this new or complex information. Remember, physical disabilities or communication difficulties are not an indicator that the person does not, or cannot understand what you are telling them about current events.

What you can do:

  • Ask the person:
    • What is the best way for us to communicate? (i.e., verbal, electronic, ASL, interpreter)
    • May I help you?
    • What do you need?
    • How are you doing today?
  • Provide communication in the way they asked for it to be done.
  • Explain what they are seeing on TV.  What is COVID -19?  Or a pandemic? Answer all questions and concerns, and be honest.
  • Keep good social contact via social distancing, social media, phone calls, emails, etc.
  • Different people need different forms of assistance, do not be afraid to ask.  Do not assume you know one’s needs based on another person.

Resources that can help:

special needs child wearing bicycle helmet