Report: AZ crisis response system failing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - 8:28am
Updated: Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - 12:24pm
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Several disability groups held a press conference this week to talk about how the state’s crisis response system is failing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, known as IDD.

The report examined the myriad issues facing people with IDD who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis. The conclusion: accountability, more training and stricter communication protocols are necessary in order to protect people with IDD in crisis. 

As it stands, families don’t always know who to contact when in crisis. And if they do connect with behavioral health services and a mobile team is dispatched, it could be a while before they show up.

“These long wait times and lack of adequate training to respond to the time of crisis of persons with IDD, place those individuals at risk of being injured or harming themselves or others, and suffering, often devastating consequences,” said Asim Dietrich, who is with the Arizona Center for Disability Law.

In some cases, the crisis stems from an untreated medical condition. 

“A young adult developed sudden onset violent behavior crisis has called in law enforcement transports to ER where he’s warehouse for several days,” said Cynthia Macluskie, president of Autism Society of Greater Phoenix. “The child was screened for several comorbid conditions. It was discovered that an onset seizure disorder was causing the violence and once treated, this behavior was eliminated.”

Other recommendations include educating families and people with IDD on navigating the crisis behavioral health system and potential legislative changes.