Guide For Our First Responders
Emergency responders in Portage County may unexpectedly encounter or be asked to find a person with Developmental Disabilities. Recognizing the behavior symptoms and knowing contact approaches can minimize situations of risk or victimization of the person with a Developmental Disability, as well as risk to the responder.
You may learn the person has a Developmental Disability from dispatch, a family member or someone at the scene, or the person themself, or you may determine the disability yourself.
Each person with a Developmental Disability will have a different level of independence. Remember that a mental illness is NOT the same as a Developmental Disability.
Who To Call
For immediate assistance with an individual enrolled in Portage DD's programs, call our Service and Support Administration team at (330) 297-4100.
If an incident occurs, please contact the Townhall II Major Unusual Incidents report line at (330) 678-7559. Following a report, Kim Sumwalt and Kendall Smith, our Investigative Agents for Portage DD, will be contacted to follow up.
What To Look For
Each person with a Developmental Disability will display different behavioral traits. Here are a common few to look for:
May Not Communicate At Age Level
• Limited vocabulary
• Difficulty understanding or answering questions
• Inability to read or write
• Mimics responses or answers
May Not Behave At Age Level
• Inappropriate interaction with peers
• Easily influenced by and anxious to please others
• Difficulty making change, using phone, telling time, etc.
• Low frustration tolerance
May Not Behave Appropriately In Emergencies
• May not understand rights
• May be overly willing to confess
• Difficulty recalling facts
• Tendency to be overwhelmed by authority
• Says what they think others want to hear
• May have sensory issues, such as being touched
How To Respond
• Use simple language; speak slowly
• Avoid questions that tell the person the answer you want
• Avoid “yes” or “no” questions
• Ask for concrete descriptions, colors, etc.
• Give praise and encouragement
• Avoid frustrating questions about complex sequences
• Never make fun of the person in the slightest; they can sense it and not cooperate.
• Sometimes individuals with Developmental Disabilities will have behavior outbursts… remain calm and give this person some time! Though it may seem like a threat, it most likely isn’t.