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The ASERT Resource Center serves as Pennsylvania’s leading source for up-to-date and accurate information and resources for individuals with autism, their families, the community and the professionals who support them. Contact the ASERT resource center to speak with a resource specialist who can help you learn how to discover and access resources in Pennsylvania.

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Sexual abuse against people with disabilities is widespread -- and hard to uncover

Article adapted from PBS News Hour, interview by Judy Woodruff, click here to read the full transcript.

People with developmental disabilities become victims of sexual assault at a rate seven times higher than those without disabilities, according to a Justice Department figure uncovered by a year-long NPR investigation.  Judy Woodruff sits down with NPR's Joseph Shapiro and Nancy Thaler from the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs to discuss why the problem has received little attention.

Nancy Thaler: "I think a lot can be done. And I think, you know, going back to childhood, I think teaching children that they have mastery over their bodies, asking permission to touch people when we're providing care to them, will give them a sense that they have control.  I think that teaching people about sexuality, we have this myth that people are not sexual, when that's not true.  They have the same feelings as everybody else.  So, being open about that, so they understand how to have a relationship and what good touch is and what bad touch is.  I think that, as a system, we need to be vigilant, our surveillance in detecting and acting quickly, making sure that people report it.  And I think, above all, helping self-advocates find their voice and have a voice and feeling empowered through training and support groups, so we have to attack this problem from a lot of different angles."

ASERT has developed a collection of resources that provides information of organizations that help those who have experienced sexual violence. To view this resource click here.

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