When working with families where a child or parent has a disability, continue with usual protocol for safety planning using your knowledge and understanding of:
- how different types of disabilities may present themselves
- how to engage and communicate effectively with Working with child with disability and Working with a parent with disability
- the risk factors associated with a child having a disability and a parent having a disability.
If a parent has an intellectual disability, mental health disorder or other disability that can impair their thinking and mental functioning, consider whether or not they have the capacity to participate in and understand safety planning and their ability to follow through with any actions documented in the safety plan.
If a parent has an intellectual disability, they may be prone to acquiescence.
“Acquiescence is the tendency for people to agree with statements or questions, regardless of the content. … Acquiescence can occur as a result of factors including but not limited to – limited understanding of the question, poor recalling of the options, overly complex language, the need for complex judgements, feeling obligated to answer even when the answer is not known, and suggestive wording” (Findlay, 2002).
Be vigilant for acquiescence, particularly when making arrangements for the safety of a child. Check for the parent’s understanding of what is being said, and ask the parent to state this in their own words.
A child with disability is at increased risk of harm. Depending on the nature of a child’s disability, their vulnerability can vary. When developing a safety plan for a child, understand the limitations a child has regarding their ability to seek help, communicate their worries, and protect themselves from any harm.
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