ACIDD implements its programs and services through its affiliates. One of the affiliates that has been effectively operating its programs and providing services to individuals with Intellectual Disability and Mental illness for the last four years is www.aciddmaryland.com . Another affiliate, www.aciddflorida.com has now shifted its focus on launching programs that would benefit people with ID and mental health issues in the Tampa area of the South Coast region in Florida.
ACIDD Maryland currently serves individuals with the other dual diagnoses under the guidance of www.acidd.org. These are individuals with Intellectual Disability (IDD) and co-occurring Mental Illness. These individuals are at high risk of developing behavioral health problems. This has a major effect on their general well-being, personal independence, productivity, quality of life, as well as impacting family and caretakers. They are a very vulnerable group of people served by both behavioral health and developmental disability agencies. As Shriver (2001) has pointed out, historically, existing systems and services tend to be organized around these individuals with a dual diagnosis of Intellectual Disability and Mental Illness as though they have either mental illnesses or developmental disabilities- but not both. In most states, including Maryland and Florida where ACIDD affiliates operate, they face barriers to services due to lack of coordination and collaboration of service systems, gaps in research, clinical competency and training, and access to appropriate programs.
There is growing stigmatization and prejudice leading to social exclusion of these individuals. Estimates of the frequency of ‘the other dually diagnosed’ vary widely. However, about 30%-35% of persons with Intellectual Disabilities has co-occurring psychiatric disorders per NADD, an association for persons with developmental disabilities and mental health needs.
We continue to face impediments to professional recognition of ‘the other dual diagnosis’. “Diagnostic overshadowing” has minimized the signs of psychiatric disturbance in persons with Intellectual Disabilities. Mental illness in a person with Intellectual Disability is less debilitating than the Intellectual Disability. There are funding challenges because each system expects the other to serve the people with the co-occurring Intellectual Disability and Mental Disorders. Staff are ill-equipped to provide adequate services. There is lack of qualified clinicians with training and expertise in Intellectual Disability to diagnose and treat psychiatric disorders among individuals with Intellectual Disabilities.
Several categories of Mental Disorders that exist in general population also can co-exist in individuals who have intellectual/developmental disabilities. The co-occurring of Mental Disorders for a person who is diagnosed with Intellectual/Developmental Disability as a life-long condition, the co-existence of a disease and a condition, can have serious impact of the person’s adaptive functioning , educational and vocational activities by jeopardizing residential placements, disrupting family and peer relationships. Behavioral and emotional problems of that person reduces his/her quality of life. The right approach to diagnosis and treatment of Mental Disorders of a person with Intellectual/Developmental Disability has always been a challenge to the professionals on both sides.