Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)




Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Karen Klee

Advisor Role




An evaluation of an abuse protection education program was conducted for adults with developmental disabilities who receive supports and services from two Community Living Ontario agencies. Abuse education is mandated within the province of Ontario but few empirically evaluated curricula exist to help organizations provide effective education for this vulnerable population. A sample of 61 adults with varying degrees of cognitive ability were randomly assigned to one of three groups: control; information-only educational lessons; and an expanded program providing additional lessons on decision-making and behavioural skills thought necessary to prevent, recognize and report abuse. This program has been developed to be easy to use, inexpensive, comprehensive, engaging and sensitive to the potential for re-traumatization for participants with an abuse history.

Results indicated that regardless of treatment group assignment, people with higher cognitive abilities performed better on all test instruments at pretest and posttest as compared to people with lower cognitive abilities and that women generally performed better than men. In regards to treatment impact there was limited statistically significant evidence but substantial anecdotal evidence to indicate that participants who received the entire curriculum demonstrated improvements in abuse protection knowledge and skill acquisition at posttest. However, the gains made eroded within 5 weeks of education. Similar results were seen in a naturalistic case study group of 13 adults with higher cognitive abilities. Previous research suggests that if programs such as this one were delivered over longer periods of time and included regular ‘booster’ lessons, statistically significant findings could be more robust. Access to reliable and valid instruments to measure abuse protection knowledge and skills remains a limitation for accurate evaluation of programs such as this one. The results have implications for agencies in Ontario who are required by legislation to provide abuse awareness for adults with developmental disabilities.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season