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Trauma-Informed Care Provides Healing for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

Studies show that individuals living with an intellectual disability experience trauma at a higher rate than those without a disability.

L’Arche Chicago, a non-profit organization dedicated to the creation and growth of homes, programs, and support networks for people who have intellectual disabilities, addresses that issue by offering trauma-informed and compassion-informed approaches to care for its clients.

“Members of L’Arche Chicago have experienced discrimination and social exclusion solely due to their disability,” said Jeremy Chia, development director, L’Arche Chicago. “Before entering L’Arche homes, some of the members lived in institutionalized facilities and other group homes, where they experienced physical, emotional and verbal abuse.”

L’Arche provides accompaniment and care to its clients through trained Direct Support Professional staff [DSPs]. All DSPs receive ongoing training and supervision on trauma-informed care guidance and practices.

“Following studies on neuroplasticity and the resilience of the brain, DSPs are equipped to help create new neural pathways that represent positive experiences of care, agency and belonging,” Chia said. “Healing and reframing is created through compassionate, gentle, person-centered care. Such care can also be enhanced through professional counseling sessions and community based social integration.”

“Central to the mission of L’Arche is building communities of belonging through a pace determined by mutual relationships,” Chia added. “We believe this can only be authentically accomplished through trauma-informed and compassion-informed approaches to care.”

About L’Arche Chicago

L’Arche Chicago recently celebrated its 20th anniversary as a community.  In L’Arche Chicago’s group homes, adults with and without intellectual disabilities live together and share friendship, building a community strengthened by faith.

L’Arche is an international federation dedicated to the creation and growth of homes, programs, and support networks with people who have intellectual disabilities. It was founded in 1964 in response to the deplorable conditions in institutions in which people with intellectual disabilities were living at that time in France.

Worldwide, L’Arche is organized into regional and national groupings of independent, locally operated agencies called “communities.” Each L’Arche community typically includes several homes, apartments and/or day programs

A joint project of Advocate Health Care & the OCEAN-HP at the University of Illinois at Chicago.