People with Intellectual Disabilities
- “My name is…I’m here to help you, not hurt you.”
- “I am a…(name your job)”
- “I am here because…(explain the situation)”
- “I look different than my picture on my badge because…(for example, if you are wearing protective equipment)”
- Your picture identification badge (as you say the above).
- That you are calm and competent
- Extra time for the person to process what you are saying and to respond.
- Respect for the dignity of the person as an equal and as an adult (example: speak directly to the person).
- An arm to the person to hold as they walk. If needed, offer your elbow for balance.
- If possible, quiet time to rest (as possible, to lower stress and fatigue).
- Short sentences.
- Simple, concrete words.
- Accurate, honest information.
- Pictures and objects to illustrate your words. Point to your ID picture as you say who you are, point to any protective equipment as you speak about it.
- What will happen (simply and concretely)?
- When events will happen (tie to common events in addition to numbers and time, for example, “By lunch time…” or “By the time the sun goes down“).
- How long this will last – when things will return to normal (if you know).
- When the person can contact or rejoin loved ones (for example: calls to family, re-uniting pets).
- Ask for/Look for:
- An identification bracelet with special health information.
- Essential equipment and supplies (for example: wheelchair, walker, oxygen, batteries, communication devices [head pointers, alphabet boards, speech synthesizers, etc.]).
- Mobility aids (for example, assistance or service animal).
- Special health instructions (for example: allergies).
- Special communication information (for example, is the person using sign language)?
- Contact information.
- Signs of stress and/or confusion (for example, the person might say he or she is stressed, look confused, withdraw or start rubbing their hands together).
- Conditions that people might misinterpret (for example, someone might mistake Cerebral Palsy for drunkenness).
- Reassurances (for example, “You may feel afraid. That’s ok. We’re safe now.”)
- Encouragement (for example, “Thanks for moving fast. You are doing great. Other people can look at you and know what to do”).
- Frequent updates on what’s happening and what will happen next. Refer to what you predicted will happen, for example: “Just like I said before, we’re getting into my car now. We’ll go to…now”.
- Distractions. For example: lower volume of radio, use flashing lights on vehicle only when necessary.
- Any written material (including signs) in everyday language.
- Public address system announcements in simple language.
- The information you’ve learned about the person with other workers who’ll be assisting the person.
Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter
1-800-272-3900 (24-Hour Toll-Free)
Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDDS) (Children birth-age 22)
1-866-552-5758 (24-Hour Toll-Free)
Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities (DSAAPD) (Adults age 18+)
Delaware Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC)