Community-based participatory research project on youth with developmental disabilities

Building on a two-year partnership with my colleague Beth Flanzbaum at YOU, Inc., I am starting to work on a new community-based participatory research project entitled “Developing best practices for clinical work with youth with developmental disabilities: Resilience promotion and risk prevention.”

Despite the nascent development of clinical practice approaches for people (mostly adults) with intellectual disabilities (formerly ‘mental retardation’), much less is known about the application of existing best practices to youth with developmental disabilities – a diagnostically distinct category. For youth who are eligible for services through state-funded intellectual disabilities/mental retardation-focused agencies, some specialized services are available. However, for youth with developmental disabilities who ‘fall between the cracks,’ community-based service agencies are the option – yet they rarely have the expertise to conduct this work in a way that will promote client resilience and prevent risk. Given the prevalence of developmental disabilities among youth served by the agency through and given the agency’s particular role in service provision to a range of ethnically diverse communities in Worcester, Massachusetts, development of better approaches to clinical services provision for this population is a significant need.

Long-term research aims:

  1. To develop culturally-competent and developmentally appropriate set of clinical practice protocols for youth with developmental disabilities aged 15-22 in partnership with community partners.
  2.  To assess the implementation of these clinical practice protocols in a multiservice agency serving ethnically diverse youth with developmental disabilities aged 15-22.
  3.  To evaluate the effectiveness of these clinical practice protocols in fostering resilience and reducing risk among youth with developmental disabilities aged 15-22.