Friday, February 10, 2012

Nora Baladerian

Autism Light #147 is Dr. Nora Baladerian.

One of the constant worries that parents have is keeping their children safe every day in every way. While the challenge impacts all parents, it weighs especially heavily on those who have children with disabilities, such as autism. According to Chantal Sicile-Kara, "those who specialize in the field of abuse & disability believe that for both children and adults, increased victimization is more likely 10 times the rate than for those without disabilities (Source)."  Today's Autism Light is a courageous light who has spent 40 years in an emotionally charged field, to which she has made priceless contributions with her outstanding professional expertise. 

Dr. Nora Baladerian, Ph.D lives in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Nora Baladerian is the Director of the Disability and Abuse Project in Los Angeles. She is a licensed psychologist who also has her own private practice.  Dr. Nora Baladerian is an Autism Light because of the key roles she has had in the field of sexual abuse of the disabled, including making a difference in areas of prevention and training, healing and therapy, and forensics and justice. To find out more information beyond what is mentioned here you may wish to view Dr. Nora Baladerian's complete online resume found in a section of her professional website.  

Dr. Nora Baladerian began her journey that has led to her life's work in 1972 when as a sexuality related counselor one of her clients revealed they were an incest victim. She recounts how she found out there was a need in this area:
I had taken all the educational courses I could at UCLA and USC under Regional Center about people with developmental disabilities when I worked there...none mentioned anything about abuse, crime victimization, sexual assault. I figured where there was one, there were many. I set out to learn all I could about crime victims with disabilities, but there was nothing, literally, that I found at that time. I began to attend any child abuse seminar/workshop/class/meeting that I could all the while asking, 'how does what you are teaching relate to kids/adults with disabilities?" No answers."  
Dr. Nora Baladerian then set out to learn all she could about sexual assault. She is a Certified Sex Educator, Certified Sex Therapist and  founding member of the California Committee on Sexuality and Developmental Disabilities. Through her gifts and passion to never stop learning, she has become a leading expert in the field of sexual abuse of people with developmental disabilities.

Conferences: Dr. Nora Baladerian has given presentations at numerous important conferences over the years. She convened 10 national/international conferences on abuse and disability from 1986 to 2005, plus in 2005 held the first professional online conference on the topic. She put these first 7 conferences on with no outside funding but the last 3 she had the support of the Arc of Riverside County, the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime, and the California Governor's Office under the Children's Justice Act. A partial list of those conferences can be found on this website

And there is a very special free opportunity coming soon to hear Dr. Nora Baladerian give an online presentation. 

On Saturday, February 11, 2012 from 8:15-9:45 Pacific Time, Dr. Nora Baladerian will give a free online presentation on "How Can Parents Reduce the Risk of Sexual Abuse of Their Child or Young Adult?" as part of the Autism Safety and Crisis Prevention Conference being presented by the Autism College and the National Autism Association (NAA) with sponsorship by The Social Express.  Go to this link to register today.

National Crime Victims Service Award (2008):  The Attorney General of the United States presented Dr. Nora Baladerian with the National Crime Victims Service Award in 2008, recognizing her pioneering work on behalf of persons with disabilities and in the furtherance of the mission of the Office for Victims of Crime of the U.S. Department of Justice. A list of other recent awards and recognition that Dr. Nora Baladerian has received is at this website

Disability and Abuse Project: Dr. Nora Baladerian has served as the Director of the Disability and Abuse Project since 1991. The mission of The Disability and Abuse Project very much mirrors the three pronged approach of prevention, healing, and justice that Dr. Nora Baladerian has taken with her career.  According to their website, the mission of the Disability and Abuse Project is "to identify ways to reduce the risk of abuse, to promote healing for victims, and to seek justice for those who have been victimized."  You can find out more information about the work of this organization at

Prevention: Autism Light asked Dr. Nora Baladerian to share some practical things that parents could do to prevent abuse of their children with autism. Here are five action steps.
  1. Communicate with children what sexual abuse is.
  2. Ask children to use their sixth sense around people, and to share with them (parents) any "weird words or behavior" by adults or other kids.
  3. Work with the child to interpret behaviors and determine if something inappropriate is taking place such as grooming.  
  4. Believe the child if they share something has happened to them.
  5. Take immediate action as parents in the situation. 
Author: Dr. Nora Baladerian has written several books/guidebooks for the field of sexual abuse of the disabled. You may view them and order them from the Disability and Abuse Project of Spectrum Institute at this website. You may also view her author page on Amazon for additional sources for some of her books.

In addition, she developed two law enforcement training videos with the ARC of Riverside County. One was for training first responders and the other for how to conduct the forensic interview with children and adults with intellectual disabilities. These training videos are available free from the Office for Victims of Crime of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Social Media: You can follow Dr. Nora Baladerian's work at the following social media areas:
Special thanks to Dr. Nora Baladerian for being a leader in the prevention and healing of sexual abuse on those with autism. I work as a Research Analyst and Webmaster for Prevent Child Abuse Michigan. It is my experience both as a parent of a child with autism and as one working in the field of abuse prevention that Dr. Nora Baladerian's specialization and expertise is very much needed today. 

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo in this post is used with the permission of Dr. Nora Baladerian. 

This post went into syndication at Autisable.


  1. Dr. Baladerian is truly a hero for children with autism and individuals with other disabilities. The information and insight she provides to professionals and parents at trainings is invaluable. In her efforts to assist professionals to understand disabilities and abuse, she has a positive, exponential effect on the lives of many.

  2. Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!

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