Autism and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Training Description:

Children and adults with autism and those with Intellectual and developmental disabilities are at higher risk of having comorbid psychiatric disorders than individuals in the general population. Yet, many behavioral health providers feel ill equipped to care for these populations largely due to lack of training and exposure. Stigma can also affect the willingness of institutions and clinicians to provide psychiatric care to people with ASD and those with IDD at all levels of care. Access to inpatient care varies widely across institutions. There is a dearth of specialists and services to support those with ASD/IDD and comorbid psychiatric disorders. Most therapists trained in ASD/IDD or in mental health have little knowledge of or training in each other’s fields. In fact, most child psychiatry trainees see less than 5 outpatients and 10 inpatients with ASD/IDD per year during their 2 years of training. This limited clinical exposure and experience has had important implications regarding families having ready access to services manned by professionals equipped to meet the needs of people with ASD/IDD and comorbid psychiatric disorders.

Crisis care is equally impacted in terms of its ability to serve these populations. Most MCI providers are social workers and LMHCs. Their job is to help youth and their families during behavioral health crises. A significant percentage of youth who experience behavioral health crises are on the autism spectrum and/or have intellectual and developmental disabilities. In fact, children with ASD/IDD were reported to be nine times more likely to receive care in an Emergency Department (ED) due to a psychiatric crisis than children without ASD/IDD diagnosis. When in-patient care is needed, individuals with ASD/IDD typically board (meaning they stay in the emergency room while awaiting a psychiatric hospital bed) in EDs for weeks due to lack of inpatient facilities appropriate to meet their needs. One study of boarding in a pediatric emergency room found that having a diagnosis of ASD was the number one predictor of boarding, followed by having an Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) diagnosis. Unfortunately, crisis care teams and/or members of these teams often lack knowledge about ASD/IDD and about best practice when a person with ASD/IDD has a behavioral crisis resulting in decreased access to well-equipped care teams and communication across systems.

This education program will increase the crisis care teams’ and general providers’ (in the CBHCs) knowledge about ASD and IDD and the unique needs related to caring for these patients for behavioral and emotional concerns and during behavioral health crises. The lectures will also highlight the importance of communication across systems.


After completing this training participants will be able to:

  • Apply best practice care for those with ASD and IDD who have comorbid psychiatric conditions.
  • Use communication across systems involved in caring for those with ASD and IDD.
  • List psychiatric comorbidities, evidence-based interventions, and systems of care for those with ASD/IDD.

Continuing Education Credits:

Discipline Approval Statement
Licensed Social Worker This program has been approved for 4 Social Work Continuing Education hours for re-licensure, in accordance with 258 CMR. NASW-MA Chapter CE Approving Program, Authorization Number D 92215.
Licensed Psychologist CE credits for psychologists are provided by the Spiritual Competency Academy (SCA) which is co-sponsoring this program. The Spiritual Competency Academy is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Spiritual Competency Academy maintains responsibility for this program and its content. For questions about receiving your Certificate of Attendance, contact Berkshire AHEC at For questions about CE, contact Spiritual Competency Academy at 4 CE Hour(s). 
MA Licensed Mental Health Counselor This program has been approved for 4 Category I MaMHCA hours for re-licensure in accordance with 262 CMR. MEACP Authorization 23-0650.
MA Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor This course has been approved by the Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Abuse Services/LADC Unit for 4 contact hours for Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors and Assistants. 
MA Registered Nurse Program meets the requirements for nursing contact hours as specified by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing 244 CMR 5.04 
MA Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist This activity has been certified by NEAFAST on behalf of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health & Human Services Professions, for LMFT professional continuing education. Certification # PC- 042091 
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Please allow 3-4 weeks for email delivery of any CE Credit certificates from Berkshire AHEC, the CE Credit provider.