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Guidelines to Professional Conduct

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Position Statement of AAIDD


The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is a professional organization that advances the knowledge and skills of individuals in the field of intellectual disability and related developmental disabilities; strives to enhance the life opportunities of people with intellectual disability and their families; and promotes public policies, research, and services that advance individual choices and human rights. The Association has developed guidelines for professional conduct that offer a set of values, principles, and standards to guide practice.


  1. The professional fosters effective communication first and foremost with the individual, using all possible alternative means of communication to ascertain their unique needs, values, and choices.
  2. The professional objectively honors, respects, and upholds the unique needs, values, and choices expressed by the individual being served. 
  3. The professional communicates fully and honestly in the performance of their responsibilities and provides sufficient information to enable individuals being supported and others to make their own informed decisions to the best of their ability. 
  4. The professional protects the dignity, privacy, and confidentiality of individuals being supported and makes full disclosure about any limitations on their ability to guarantee full confidentiality. 
  5. The professional is alert to situations that may cause a conflict of interest or have the appearance of a conflict. When a real or potential conflict of interest arises, the practitioner not only acts in the best interest of individuals being supported, but also provides full disclosure. 
  6. The professional seeks to prevent, and promptly responds to, signs of abuse and exploitation whether it is physical, mental, sexual, or financial in nature.
  7. The professional engages neither in a dual relationship in which there is a professional and a personal relationship with the individual nor conduct that is abusive/exploitive in a physical, mental, sexual, or financial manner.
  8. The professional assumes responsibility and accountability for personal competence in evidence-based practice and professional standards of his/her respective field, continually striving to increase professional knowledge and skills and to apply them in practice. 
  9. The professional exercises professional judgment within the limits of their qualifications and collaborates with others, seeks counsel, or makes referrals as appropriate. 
  10. The professional fulfills commitments in good faith and in a timely manner. 
  11. The professional conducts his/her practice with honesty, integrity, and fairness. 
  12. The professional provides services in a culturally competent manner and does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or disability. 
  13. The professional is diligent in being knowledgeable regarding changes and emerging trends in guiding philosophies within the field (e.g., self-determination, self-advocacy, inclusion), and ensures that his/her professional practices remain compatible.
  14. The professional strives to use and educate others to use preferred terminology and people-first language, rather than perpetuate the use of outdated and offensive terms.
  15. The professional maintains currency in research findings for evidenced-based practices and, when applicable, applies those findings to practice and where needed, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disability in the discussion of the application of such findings.

Adopted by the AAIDD Board of Directors on July 11, 2012, and as revised and amended on January 29, 2020.

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