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Interviewing Children with Disabilities: A Practical Guide for Forensic Interviewer

NCJ Number
Rachel Johnson; Rita Farrell; Victor Vieth; Robert Peters; Kathleen Nolan; Caralea Grant; Lauren Munday; Caitie Dahl
Date Published
April 2022
17 pages

This is a practical guide on how to conduct an interview with a child who may be a victim of child abuse and who has some type of mental and/or physical disability.



Interviewing children who may be victims of abuse involves special considerations for children with mental and/or physical disabilities. This requires special training for those who conduct an interview of the children and the functioning of the multidisciplinary team (MDT) working with the child. This guide first identifies and discusses the features of various types of disabilities common in children before discussing how these influence forensic interviews of children with disabilities. Forensic interviews involve numerous considerations for children with disabilities, including the language and terminology used by interviewers and MDT members, preparatory measures, modifications, and the court process. Details are discussed for each of these aspects of an interview with a child with some type of disability. Issues discussed include making the interview space physically accessible, how the child communicates most comfortably, familiar routines, sensory considerations, mental health, and cultural considerations. The MDT is also guided in the MDT’s individualized education plan to guide the child through case processing procedures.