Special Interest Groups

Neurodiversity SIG

Individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities are at an increased risk of experiencing trauma, including chronic child maltreatment, peer violence, disability-related abuse, and medical trauma. This trauma can be exacerbated by disability-specific stressors and unique ways of perceiving the world, including cognitive and sensory processing differences. Accordingly, these individuals are at an increased risk of posttraumatic stress and dissociation, and they may have unique assessment and treatment needs. The Neurodiversity and Dissociation SIG was formed to create a space for education, discussion, and training to help clinicians understand the unique needs and challenges present for traumatized and dissociative individuals who have neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Despite existing for less than a year, the Neurodiversity and Dissociation SIG has already made great strides in its mission. Within the first month, inaugural members were polled about their hopes and goals for the SIG. They named the ability to learn and discuss through the ISST-D World Discussion Forum as their first priority, which has encouraged several rich discussions. Members also identified a particular interest in treatment considerations, with focuses on autism, ADHD, and trauma-related developmental delays, which has guided the focus of these discussions. It also led to the creation of several resources for the SIG, including informational graphics and a list of client and professional resources related to neurodevelopmental disabilities.

The NDD SIG currently has over 75 active members. Plans for the upcoming year include polling these members to ensure that the SIG continues to move in a direction that is beneficial for all. The first priority is determining if members would benefit from virtual meetings, and, if so, when these meetings should fall and what they should focus on. If synchronous meetings aren’t possible, the executives are considering creating monthly discussion topics to drive conversation. Another priority is the determining or confirming the name of the SIG. Since the NDD SIG was formed, it has become clear that “neurodiversity” is a wide umbrella that may not clearly signal a focus on neurodevelopmental disabilities. While current members have a clear shared understanding of the SIG’s purpose, changing the name may help to improve non-members’ understanding of the NDD SIG and potentially encourage increased membership.

Finally, outreach is planned for the wider ISST-D and beyond. SIG leaders have already presented at ISST-D conferences and plan to continue this. Similarly, SIG leaders and members have engaged in discussions with the wider ISST-D to share knowledge and experience related to neurodevelopmental disabilities. A newsletter post is planned to more directly and effectively address myths and misconceptions about trauma and dissociation in neurodevelopmental disabilities. Other accessible resources that can be referenced by any ISST-D member or posted publicly are also under discussion. In all publications and presentations, the NDD SIG strives to ensure that professional and lived experience views are respectfully represented.

If you would like to join the NDD SIG, please email Barbara Shaya at We hope to hear from you soon!