Current research on sexual violence perpetrated against individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) focuses on rates of victimization and individual risk factors. This research suggests that individuals with IDD are at a greater risk for sexual violence compared with the general public. At this time, there is no comprehensive theoretical framework to explain sexual abuse risk factors for individuals with IDD. This article describes such a framework by examining how an ecological perspective can be used to understand why individuals with IDD are at increased risk as well as provide a roadmap for how to prevent sexual abuse. An ecological framework, first introduced by Bronfenbrenner in 1979, examines individuals at multiple contextual levels. Current research on sexual violence and adults with IDD is reviewed through an ecological lens. We argue that an ecological approach is necessary for examining the nature of sexual violence and IDD, understanding why individuals with IDD are at a greater risk for sexual violence, and providing insight into how to prevent sexual violence.
Curtiss, S.L. & Kammes, R. (2019). Understanding the Risk of Sexual Violence of Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities from an Ecological Framework. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, Online First. doi: 10.1111/jppi.12318
Dr. Curtiss was invited to the Center of Disability Studies at the University of Delaware to present on Sexual Consent and Disability. Participants learned what sexual consent is from a sexual health perspective and a legal perspective. They also learned important considerations when teaching consent and how teaching consent promotes sexual safety.
When Dr. Curtiss talks about teaching sexual consent she discussed four main skills: Saying No, Recognizing No, Respecting No, and Saying Yes. To say No, you need to be able to say NO with different levels of intensity, to have multiple strategies for saying NO, a be able to say NO in a variety of contexts including online. To be able to recognize No, you need to be able to recognize verbal, non-vebal, and contextual NO as well as NO by omission. To be able to respect NO you need to have self-regulation skills to manage emotional reaction to hearing NO. To be able to say YES, you need to understand what feel comfortable.
Families with children on the autism spectrum are often viewed in terms of their deficits rather than their strengths. Family meals are portrayed as sources of stress and struggle for parents and children. In this study, we take a resilience perspective to challenge underlying assumptions and get a more accurate picture of the nature of shared family meals. In-depth interviews were conducted and mealtimes were video recorded with 16 families for this thematic analysis. We identified four themes as being particularly salient to the mealtime experience: (1) schools and homework, (2) managing eating, (3) chores, and (4) intimate conversations. Our results elucidate the context of mealtimes as a site where parents struggle, yet negotiate, the challenges of everyday family life. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3720-9
Sarah Curtiss and Linda Tortorelli (direct or The Autism Program) gave a webinar to 4-H leaders throughout the state of Illinois. We were excited the 4-H recognized the importance of supporting autistic youth in their activities.