The Double Whammy of Disability and Trauma: Therapeutic and Logistical Issues and Practical Solutions

Children and teens with developmental delays and disabilities face high risks for trauma yet at the same time encounter barriers to receiving therapy for traumas they endure. Some barriers arise from professionals’ lack of familiarity with the ways trauma can impact different disabilities, and how posttraumatic and dissociative symptoms might manifest in these populations. Many trauma therapists do not feel comfortable treating clients who have disabilities. Many therapists who work with disabilities do not feel comfortable tackling trauma. Posttraumatic and dissociative symptoms are often seen as a worsening of existing issues or might be judged as “all due to trauma” when they might reflect interplay of disability and trauma factors. Effective intervention can be complicated by the reality that youth with disabilities see many professionals, and that collaboration between educators, developmental therapists, medical personnel, and psychotherapists, frequently meets logistical and ‘territorial’ challenges.

This workshop will address the complex realities of trauma therapy in youth with disabilities. Perceptions (and misconceptions), clinical competence concerns, ‘turf wars,’ logistics, and confidentiality issues will be discussed. Presenters will utilize clinical vignettes and audience input to explore unique challenges and opportunities. Possible solutions for liaising with caregivers, medical, educational, and other providers will be offered.

This session was originally presented as a live conference session in March 2019.

Target Audience


Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this session participants will be able to:


  • Identify how developmental delays and disabilities increase risk for trauma.
  • List five examples for how trauma and dissociation might manifest in youth with disabilities.
  • Discuss three ways to increase cultural and clinical competence in their work with traumatized youth with disabilities.
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
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Presenter: Na'ama Yehuda
Presenter Bio: Na’ama Yehuda, MSC, SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and audiologist with almost 30 years’ experience. A clinician in private practice, she consulted for the New York City Department of Education; provides international professional development and consultations on communication, language, trauma, and development; and is the author of several publications on the topic. She was elected to serve on the boards of directors of the Israeli Speech Hearing Language Association (ISHLA) and the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), chaired and volunteers on taskforces and committees, and co-chairs the Child and Adolescent Committee of ISSTD and the ISSTDNYC component group. Her book, "Communicating Trauma: Clinical presentations and interventions with traumatized children" received the ISSTD's Written Media Award for 2016. She is an ISSTD Fellow, as well as a recipient of the ISSTD President's Award (2014) and the ISSTD Distinguished Achievement Award (2011). She also writes and publishes fiction.

Presenter: Jaime Pollack
Presenter Bio: Jaime is founder and director of An Infinite Mind, a non-profit dedicated to educating the community about trauma based dissociation with a focus on Dissociative Identity Disorder. Additionally, she works as a special education teacher and behavior therapist. Jaime is passionate about educating people about the effects trauma can have on the development of children, including those with special needs.

Presenter: Patricia Peace
Presenter Bio: Patricia S. Peace, LMHC, EMDR, is the owner of Transformations Counseling in Orange City, Florida. She provides therapy to individuals, couples, adolescents and families on a wide variety of issues, including trauma, grief and loss, anxiety, depression, stress, addiction, foster care, adoption, domestic violence, self-harm, relationship issues, physical and sexual abuse, autism, substance abuse/use and specialization with a focus on the LGBT+ community. She incorporates a variety of tools to assists clients on their journey to healing, including traditional “talk therapy”, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a Person Centered Approach, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), Trauma Informed Care, as well as sand tray and art activities. She has experience in victim services, group home counseling, and advocacy for victims of trafficking. She does advocacy and training for Volusia County schools.

Available Credit

  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.


ISSTD Member cost:
Your Price:
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"Your Price" above reflects your final price based on your membership status and career level. 

  • ISSTD defines a student as those enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree or certification in the mental health field and who have an interest in trauma and dissociation. 
  • ISSTD defines an emerging professional as mental health professionals who have completed an advanced degree and are in the first three years of their career (or first three years after graduation for researchers).
  • If you do not fall into one of the above categories please register as Professional/Retired. 

These prices are for Tier I countries. For a list of countries by Tier click here. If you are located in a country that falls into Tier II-VI please contact ISSTD at to receive the appropriate discount code.