The forensic interview of a child with a developmental/intellectual disability serves a critical role in understanding the concerns for sexual and/or physical abuse. Inherent in the child’s disability are inherent challenges in following objective forensic interview processes.
Thus, in order to most accurately represent what if anything may have happened to a child with a disability who presents with concern for abuse, interviewers require specialized training and techniques in how to interview this population. At times, the evaluation requires an extended forensic interview process.
Our PhD forensic interview expert has over 25 years experience as a specialist working with children with disabilities who may have been sexually or physically abused. Careful analysis of such cases for civil, criminal or family matters may assist the attorney in understanding the complex issues in these cases.
Forensic Interviews Sexual and Physical Abuse – Children with Disabilities Research
In the study Cederborg, A. C. Danielsson, H., La Rooy, D, and Lamb, M. E. (2009). Repetition of contaminating question types when children and youths with intellectual disabilities are interviewed. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 53(5). 440-449, the effects of repeating questions in forensic interviews evaluating the concern for potential sexual abuse of children with intellectual disabilities was analyzed. The repetition of focused option-posing and suggestive questions was predicted to suspected victims to changing responses, therefore making it challenging to understand what actually happened. This may, of course, affect the credibility or reliability of witnesses. Researchers reviewed case files and transcripts interviews of 33 children and youths who had a variety of intellectual disabilities in Sweden. 40% of the time, the repetition of focused questions raised doubts about the reports due to the changes in answers. Thus, the authors concluded these issues diminished the usefulness of the witnesses’ testimony.
In the guidebook Poole, D. A., & Lamb, M. E. (1998). Investigative interviews of children: A guide for helping professions. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, guidelines are set forth for investigative professionals interviewing children with diabiliites for potential sexual abuse. The document stressed that forensic interviewers need have expertise to be able to conduct objective interviews to analyze these cases and provide information to investigative agencies. They must use clear, appropriate, and engaging language in these forensic interviews, based on the most up-to-date research.