February 14, 2020
Nora J. Baladerian, Ph.D., director of the Disability and Abuse Project of Spectrum Institute, has been nominated for two awards. One is the Gail Burns-Smith Award from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. That award recognizes people who have made significant contributions to preventing sexual violence through their work to facilitate effective partnerships between advocates working on behalf of victims/survivors and those working in the area of sex offender management and treatment. To read the nominating letter for this award, click here. Two letters in support of the nomination can be read by clicking here. The other is the Edward A. Doll Award from Division 33 of the American Psychological Association. That award honors an individual for making substantial contributions to the understanding of intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout his or her career. To read the nominating letter for this award, click here. Here's wishing Dr. Baladerian the very best in connection with both of these award nominations.
December 1, 2019
October 29, 2019
The Arc of Riverside held a ceremony today to unveil a memorial to honor its late Executive Director Jim Stream. The installation is a tribute to his advocacy for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Dr. Nora Baladerian made a presentation in which she shared memories of her collaboration and friendship with Jim. To read her remarks, click here.
October 25, 2019
October 19, 2019
At its annual convention today, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association recognized Dr. Nora J. Baladerian with a Nonprofit Psychologist Award. The purpose of the award is to thank nonprofits for important work they are doing in the community. The association will donate $500 to Spectrum Institute to support Dr. Baladerian's work with the Disability and Abuse Project. The funds will be used to support the ongoing work of the project by increasing dissemination of materials nationally, translating guidebooks into Spanish, or supporting an informational community program about improving response to abuse and/or designing and implementing risk reduction strategies in day, employment or residential programs. The photo depicts award recipients Nora Baladerian Ph.D. (center) and Ken Bachrach Ph.D. (left) along with award presenter Sidonie Freeman Psy.D. Dr. Bachrach was recognized for his work with the Tarzana Treatment Centers.
August 20, 2019
Dr. Nora J. Baladerian Presents Today at the NAPSA Annual Conference
National Adult Protective Services Association is holding its annual
conference in Denver this week.
Among the speakers is Nora J. Baladerian, Ph.D. who is presenting
Trauma Treatment for Abuse Survivors with
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
The conference brochure describes the presentation as follows.
“This workshop will
detail trauma treatment for individuals with I/DD, using didactic
methods as well as several case vignettes, to illustrate approaches to
therapy with members of this population. Most of the cases involve
sexual assault, including perpetrator threats and the demonstration of
Accommodation Syndrome in the population, a factor that complicates
investigation but operates as a protection for the victim. Trauma
treatment demands flexibility of the psychologist/treatment provider, in
a variety of contexts including therapist safety, patient safety
(physical and psychological). Utilization of Victims of Crime funding
will be described, as many who require therapy are unaware of this
funding source. Creativity in delivering effective trauma therapy is
required as with members of any population.” For
a copy of the conference program,
For a copy of the conference program, click here.
June 12, 2019
Dr. Nora Baladerian Presents Today at National Autism Conference
Nora J. Baladerian, Ph.D. is speaking today at the Milestones National Autism Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. The breakout session helps participants learn how to reduce the risk and impact of abuse.
Session Abstract: This presentation describes an effective abuse risk-reduction program. Incidence and prevalence of abuse are discussed, along with common factors among perpetrators. Both parent(s) and their child (minor or adult) participate in informational and skill-building aspects of this unique and effective program. Case examples are provided to convey the options that have been used in these individualized plans to respond to the constant worry of parents/caregivers. Empowering actions parents can take to reduce the risk of abuse of their child will be described. An examination of skills to use and actions to take before abuse occurs, after it occurs, and, for the individual during an abuse event. Participants will leave with a practical and effective opportunity to reduce the risk of abuse.
May 11, 2019
Dr. Nora Baladerian Presents at AADMD Conference in Rochester, NY
Nora Baladerian speaks today at the annual conference of the American
Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry.
Topic #1: Methods for Improving Abuse
Recognition and Provider Management.
Topic #2: An Approach to Reduce the Risk and Impact of Abuse
Among Individuals with I/DD. For a descriptions of her two
presentations, click here. (Photo: Nora Baladerian and Joe Shapiro, investigative reporter
with National Public Radio)
(Photo: Nora Baladerian and Joe Shapiro, investigative reporter with National Public Radio)
April 17, 2019
New Book Features Chapter on Forensic Interviewing of Sex Abuse Victims with Disabilities
Response to Child Sexual Abuse: A Resource for Professionals Working
with Children and Families” has just been released.
Click here for information on how to order the book.
January 20, 2019
Spectrum Institute Board Approves 2018 Annual Report
Spectrum Institute released its 2018 Annual Report today. The report contains a description of the activities of its two projects and financial information for the year. Elected to another year of service on the board are: Nora J. Baladerian (president), Thomas F. Coleman (secretary), Michael A. Vasquez (treasurer) and Diane Coleman Rogers (board member). For a copy of the 2018 Annual Report, click here.
August 10, 2018
Dr. Nora Baladerian Receives APA Award in San Francisco
Congratulations to Dr. Nora Baladerian for receiving this year's Distinguished Contributions Award from the APA Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology. The award recognizes an APA member who has made a significant contribution to people with disabilities through promoting inclusion, advancing knowledge and research, participating in advocacy, and fostering empowerment of people with disabilities in society. To read Nora's acceptance speech, click here.
July 9, 2018
Dr. Nora Baladerian to Receive Award from American Psychological Association
Psychological Association will present an award to Dr.
Nora Baladerian on August 9, 2018 at its annual meeting
in San Francisco. The award recognizes her contributions
to disability issues in psychology. To read the
announcement of the award, click here.
April 27, 2018
Spectrum Institute Directors to Speak at International Conference
Dr. Nora J. Baladerian and attorney Thomas F. Coleman have been invited to make presentations at the Fifth World Congress on Adult Guardianship. The conference will be held on October 23-25 in Seoul, South Korea. For an abstract of Dr. Baladerian's presentations, click here. For an abstract of Mr. Coleman's presentation, click here. The World Congress occurs every two years and is generally attended by about 450 delegates from dozens of nations.
April 25, 2018
South Korea Delegation Meets with Dr. Nora Baladerian
A group of scholars and government officials from South Korea met with Dr. Nora J. Baladerian in Los Angeles on April 10, 2018. At the request of the delegation, the meeting was arranged by the United States Department of State. Members of the group were interested in Dr. Baladerian's views on issues pertaining to disability and abuse. Above is a photo of the group with Dr. Baladerian.
January 20, 2018
New Legislative Proposals in Missouri on Abuse and Disability
The Missouri Association of County Developmental Disabilities Services has developed a set of legislative proposals aimed at abuse of people with disabilities. Some of the proposals emerged from presentations on disability, abuse, and guardianships last year by Dr. Nora J. Baladerian and attorney Thomas F. Coleman at a summit on victimization convened by The Arc of Missouri. To view the legislative package, click here.
January 18, 2018
New York Times: Treatment Offers Hope for California Siblings
Dr. Nora Baladerian was quoted in a story today about the 13 children in California who were held captive and continually abused by their parents for years. The story focuses on their need for trauma therapy. To read the story, click here.
January 8, 2018
NPR Series: Abused and Betrayed
National Public Radio
is airing a series on sexual abuse of people with
intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Investigative reporter Joseph Shapiro is responsible for
the research and reporting. Below are links to
individual episodes of the series.
Part 5: From the Frontlines of a Sexual Assault Epidemic: Two Therapists Share Stories
In Their Own Words: People with Intellectual Disabilities
Talk About Rape
November 11, 2017
New Decision on Facilitated Communication, Abuse, and Court Testimony
The Indiana Court of Appeal recently issued a decision allowing a victim of alleged abuse to testify using a form of facilitated communication (FC). The court reviewed prior precedents on the issue and ruled that the victim does not have to prove that FC in general is a scientifically validated form of communication. Rather, it need only be shown that the communication method works for the victim in a specific case and that the victim is in fact the author of the messages being conveyed through the facilitated testimony. The trial court only needs to assure itself that it is the victim who is testifying, not the person assisting the victim in the FC process. For a copy of the court's opinion, click here. Note: This case-by-case approach is consistent with the "effective communication" requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under the ADA, a person is entitled to have assistance in participating in his or her case. But, of course, in the case of assisted testimony the communication must be coming from the witness and not the person doing the assisting.
October 24, 2017
Lectures Today at UCLA Class on Autism
Dr. Nora J. Baladerian and attorney Thomas F. Coleman have been invited to lecture today at the University of California at Los Angeles. Their presentations will follow a lecture on legal issues by Dr. Linda Demer. The class is titled Perspectives on Autism and Neurodiversity. Dr. Baladerian will speak about disability and abuse. Mr. Coleman will give an overview of advocacy efforts to reform state guardianship and conservatorship systems -- legal proceedings in which people with autism often find themselves entangled. Coleman, Demer, and Baladerian are depicted in this photo. Coleman's presentation will be filmed by Greg Byers for a documentary on guardianship reform. The documentary film -- Pursuit of Justice -- will be released next year. In addition to his presentation on guardianship reform, Coleman will give students a written commentary titled "Living on the Autism Spectrum: Legal Issues Over a Life Span." For a copy of the commentary, click here.
Arc of Missouri Educational Summit on Victimization is a Success
Dr. Nora J. Baladerian gave a morning keynote address at this conference. Her presentation focused on the incidence of abuse, the impact of abuse, and how a lack of awareness of abuse leads to longer exposure and no access to treatment. Attorney Thomas F. Coleman's afternoon keynote discussed the need to administer trauma informed justice for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are involved in guardianship proceedings. He identified ways in which persons who are in charge of or participating in Missouri's guardianship system can reduce the risk of abuse and provide an effective response if and when maltreatment is suspected or reported. His presentation and supporting materials are found at: http://spectruminstitute.org/Missouri/ Many thanks to Ed Thomas, President of The Arc of Missouri, for inviting Nora and Tom to participate in the conference as keynote speakers. Depicted in this photo are Ed, Nora, and Tom.
Vice News Tonight: Senate Healthcare Bill's Effect on Disabled
Project Advisor Debra Stemmler and her son Sergei explain the consequences that passage of the Senate's heath care bill would have on people with serious disabilities.
Adventures in Advocacy for Spectrum Institute Team
May 4, 2017
Spectrum Institute sent a letter today to the Clark County District Attorney regarding sentencing options for a guardian who was convicted of financial elder abuse. The case was brought to our attention by Richard Black who is an advisor to the Disability and Guardianship Project. A television news program reported on the conviction of Helen Natko on April 11, 2017. We are asking the prosecutor to recommend to the court that Natko serve significant jail time, not only as punishment for her crime but to send a message to other would-be perpetrators that abuse and exploitation of seniors and dependent adults will not be tolerated. To read our letter, click here.
March 7, 2017
Jennifer Palmer has become the Newsfeed Researcher for the Disability and Abuse Project. Because of her participation, we are able to resume the newsfeed service which has been dormant for the past several months. Jennifer is a nurse advocate at Blue Cross Blue Shield in Kansas City, Missouri. To access the newsfeed contents page, click here.
February 28, 2017
Earlier this month Spectrum Institute wrote letters to U.S. Senators Grassley (S. 178) and Klobuchar (S. 182) suggesting they should amend their bills intended to stimulate reforms in state guardianship and abuse-response systems. The bills focus on elder abuse (people over 60). (See posts under Feb. 17 and Feb. 21 below.) Today the Daily Journal legal newspaper published my commentary giving examples of how vulnerable adults with disabilities under the age of 60 have been victims of state guardianship systems. All vulnerable adults with disabilities should reap the benefit of any federally-funded reforms to state-operated guardianship and abuse-response systems. To read the op-ed article, click here. The article is a condensed version of a longer "seniors plus" commentary that I have written on the same subject and which was sent to the senators sponsoring these bills. To read the longer version, click here.
February 20, 2017
February 17, 2017
Today Spectrum Institute sent a letter to Senator Charles Grassley asking him to consider broadening the scope of S. 178 on elder abuse to include protections for vulnerable and dependent adults under the age of 60. A copy of the letter was also sent to Sen. Dianne Feinstein who is a co-sponsor of the bill and to staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill was approved by the committee on February 9, 2017.
The letter refers to a 2013 National Survey conducted by NAPSA (National Adult Protective Services Association) showing that APS agencies in virtually all states focus on elder and dependent adult abuse and not just elder abuse. The benefits of this bill (data collection, trainings, and development of best practices) should be extended to adults under the age of 60 who are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Others should send a printed letter to Senator Grassley (with an e-mail copy to staff members) to express their opinions about and reasons why this bill should be amended so that it includes elder and dependent adult abuse.
Email addresses for
committee staff are:
February 15, 2017
Many thanks to Dr. Linda Demer (center) for all of her support over the past few years. This photo was taken recently at UCLA after a presentation to her students in a class focusing on autism. She has arranged for students to help us as interns and has taken trips with us for special events and has attended press conferences. We appreciate her advice to us and are grateful for her support of our nonprofit activities.
February 13, 2017
The Disability and Abuse Project is conducting a Safe Schools Study to monitor incidents of abuse of children with disabilities at school and to create greater public awareness of the seriousness and scope of this national problem. To lay the foundation for the campaign, we have published a commentary by our legal director, Thomas F. Coleman, about the need for parents, disability organizations, local school boards, state legislators, and insurance companies to adopt policies and implement procedures to reduce the risk of such abuse at school. To access the new webpage for the Safe Schools Study, click here.
February 9, 2017
Thomas Coleman and Nora Baladerian both make presentations today to students in a class on "Current Perspectives on the Autism Spectrum and Neurodiversity, part of the undergraduate Disability Studies Department. Each week the class concerns a different theme. Today's theme is Legal Issues." Baladerian and Coleman will both discuss abuse of people with developmental disabilities. Using a powerpoint presentation, Baladerian will focus on abuses by individuals. Referencing printed handouts, Coleman will discuss abuses by legal institutions such as the courts in the context of guardianship and conservatorship proceedings..
A previously written essay on the need of judges and attorneys to administer trauma-informed justice in conservatorship and guardianship proceedings involving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities has been revised to incorporate new data on the rate and prevalence of abuse of people in this population. To access the revised essay, click here. A one-page synopsis of the importance of vetting prospective conservators in newly-filed limited conservatorship proceedings, and investigating allegations of abuse in open cases, has been added to the website. To read it, click here.
January 13, 2017
Thomas F. Coleman, legal director of Spectrum Institute, has reviewed a recently published journal article containing a meta-analysis of many other studies on the subject of rates of abuse of children with disabilities. The meta-analysis concludes that children with disabilities experience abuse and neglect at a higher rate than children without disabilities. Although the meta-analysis does not venture an estimate of the prevalence of abuse of children with disabilities, Coleman's review cites other studies on the subject and estimates that a majority of children with disabilities experience abuse of some type during their childhood years. To read Coleman's review, click here.
June 22, 2016
Video on Disability and Abuse Project
The Arc of Riverside County has produced a two-minute video about the Disability and Abuse Project. In the video, Executive Director Nora J. Baladerian, Ph.D. discusses some of the activities of the project.
June 14, 2016
The Risk of Abuse: Don't Tell the Children?
A new essay written by Dr. Nora J. Baladerian has been added to the website. It was written in response to a question raised by an audience member at a recent presentation about risk reduction. The essay proposes that children, even those who have been previously abused, should be told about potential abuse in the future and advised that they can work with a parent or other responsible adult to create a Risk Reduction Plan. Dr. Baladerian says that the benefits of such a plan far outweigh any anxiety or other potentially uncomfortable effects of discussing such a delicate issue with a child. To access the essay, click here.
May 19, 2016
Presentation at Kaiser Permanente
Nora Baladerian, Ph.D. and Thomas Coleman, J.D. met today in Pasadena with members of a regional Family Violence Prevention Program at Kaiser Permanente. Dr. Baladerian spoke about our Rule Out Abuse Campaign and how it applies to doctors and staff at Kaiser. Attorney Coleman discussed how the Family Violence and Prevention Program should be ADA accessible so that patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities may have meaningful access to all components of the program as required by Kaiser's nondiscrimination policy and state and federal laws. His presentation included a handout titled "Adult Patients with Intellectual Disabilities: Issues of Capacity and Waiver under the ADA."
May 9, 2016
Presentation at UCLA
Dr. Nora Baladerian (second from right) and attorney Thomas Coleman (far left) both made presentations at UCLA today. This session of an undergraduate class titled "Current Perspectives on the Autism Spectrum and Neurodiversity" focused on legal issues. Dr. Baladerian spoke on disability and abuse. Thomas Coleman addressed legal capacity to make decisions with an emphasis on the limited conservatorship system in California. The class is taught by Judy Mark (right) and Dr. Linda Demer (second from left).
May 5, 2016
Presentation at Kaiser Permanente
Dr. Nora Baladerian made a presentation on the "Rule Out Abuse Campaign" at Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, California today. The presentation to the Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Committee was well received. Some members of the committee suggested that Dr. Baladeran approach other committees and departments within Kaiser about creating and implementing a Rule Out Abuse Physician Education Program focusing on patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities with symptoms consistent with possible abuse. A follow-up letter was sent to Kaiser requesting a joint meeting with these departments and committees.
May 4, 2016
Feedback on "The Rules of Sex" Webinar
The Webinar conducted on April 28 (see below) was well attended and well received. More than 150 people attended the session, including self-advocates, family members of self-advocates, and developmental disability professionals. Attending were people from California and nearly a dozen other states -- and Canada too. Feedback on the quality of the presentation was overwhelmingly positive.
May 1, 2016
Rule Out Abuse Campaign Receives Major Endorsement
Dr. Vincent Felitti, co-principal investigator of the ACE Study -- a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente into the later-in-life consequences of adverse childhood events -- has endorsed the Rule Out Abuse Campaign.
We are asking people to spread the word about the campaign by sharing our literature with medical and mental health practitioners. See our "call for help."
April 29, 2016
Tom and Nora Interviewed at the Arc of Riverside County
Tom Coleman and Nora Baladerian joined Jim Stream in Riverside today. Jim is the Executive Director of the Arc of Riverside County. Tom and Nora were each interviewed by Robbie Silver (below) about the projects which they direct at Spectrum Institute: Nora about the Disability and Abuse Project; Tom about the Disability and Guardianship Project. A 20 minute video about each project will become part of a series of educational videos being produced by Arc Riverside about various topics affecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. When the videos are released, we will provide a link to them from this website.
April 28, 2016
Webinar Today on "The Rules of Sex"
The University of Southern California and Children's Hospital in Los Angeles are hosting a webinar on "The Rules of Sex." Thepresentation, by Dr. Nora J. Baladerian, is designed for an audience of self advocate with developmental disabilities and their families. To access a flyer about the presentation, click here.
March 30, 2016
Children's Hospital Sponsors Webinar on "Rules of Sex"
The USC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities will conduct a webinar on "The Rules of Sex" for people with developmental disabilities. The Center is affiliated with Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. The speaker will be Dr. Nora J. Baladerian. For a copy of the announcement, click here.
March 29, 2016
Invitations to Speak at UCLA
Dr. Nora J. Baladerian and attorney Thomas F. Coleman received invitations today to lecture at the University of California at Los Angeles campus. The class -- Perspectives on the Autism Spectrum and Neurodiversity -- will hear Dr. Baladerian speak on the topic of disability and abuse, while attorney Coleman will speak about guardianship reform.