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COVID-19 Vaccine: Information & Best Practices

A person in a lab coat holding a syringe filled with serum. On behalf of the Department of Health and Department of Human Services, we invite you to join the upcoming webinar “COVID-19 Vaccine: Information & Best Practices” to hear from experts and peers regarding vaccine education and implementation strategies.

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Updated: January 20, 2021 11:03 

Autism & The Courts: Regional Panel - Philadelphia

Jan. 26, 2021 from 11 A.M. - 1 P.M.

Banner that reads "Autism & the Courts: Regional Panel - Philadelphia"Committed to access to justice for Pennsylvanians with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, along with the Department of Human Services (DHS) is pleased to announce an upcoming virtual forum – Autism and the Courts, aimed at learning about court experiences from individuals with ASD. Read up on the panel here.

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Updated: January 14, 2021 16:33 

A Message From DHS Secretary Miller: RISE Vendor Has Been Selected

Portrait photo of Secretary Teresa Miller smiling and standing in front of the US flag.Today, PA Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller announced that a vendor has been selected for the Commonwealth's upcoming Resource Information and Services Enterprise (RISE PA) resource and referral tool. 

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Updated: January 13, 2021 15:52 

PA Family Network to Hold Pop-Up Family Forum Today

The PA Family Network Logo containing that language with a PA shaped logoTonight, the Pennsylvania Family Network (PAFN) will be holding a Family Forum this evening at 6:30 pm to discuss the proposed ODP amendments to the Adult Autism Waiver and the Consolidated, Person/Family Directed Support (P/FDS), and Community Living Waiver. PAFN has also released its full schedule of events for the next two months.

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Updated: January 13, 2021 10:54 

CDC Releases Info on New COVID-19 Variants

A rendering of the coronavirus shapeThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently weighed in on the emerging COVID-19 variants that have been found in the US and abroad. Scientists are working to assess the risk these variants pose. The CDC says that, so far, there is no evidence to conclude that the new COVID-19 variants cause a more severe illness or risk of death than their predecessor.

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Updated: January 12, 2021 10:32 

COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Participants

An illustration of two women talking while wearing masks. A part of the AIDinPA social story.The Department of Health, Office of Developmental Programs, ASERT and HCQUs have teamed up to create resources for explaining the COVID-19 vaccination process to participants. 

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Updated: January 11, 2021 10:41 


Vaccination for Non-Residential Direct Support Providers

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Logo containing that text and a keystone with a drawing of a nuclear family insideIn Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Interim Plan for Vaccination residents and staff of community homes and intermediate care facilities are included in phase 1A under long-term care facilities. Non-residential staff are also included in phase 1A under Health Care Personnel. See the attached document for more information.

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Updated: January 11, 2021 09:59 

Communication Corner for January

A picture containing three sheets of paper listing ODP's Communication And... SeriesA new issue of Communication Corner is available! Communication Corner is a monthly publication from ODP's special populations division that discusses important considerations for communication practices in the field. 

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Updated: January 8, 2021 12:37 

Addressing Refusal or Reluctance to COVID-19 Modifications

CMS Logo displaying those letters in bold blue text surrounded by a blue and yellow semi-circleThe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released an important resource: CMS Guidance for Infection Control in Communities Serving Individuals with Behavioral Health, Psychiatric and Cognitive Impairment Issues. 

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Updated: January 8, 2021 12:17 

COVID: Know the Symptoms

Today we wanted to pass along a helpful visual resource shared with us by Pennsylvania's Office of Administration. This resource provides a simple illustration of what to do depending on the type and intensity of COVID symptoms.

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Updated: January 7, 2021 09:01 

Strategies for Optimizing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Supplies During Shortages 

CDC Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a reference resource that outlines the CDC’s strategies to optimize personal protective equipment (PPE).  

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Updated: January 6, 2021 13:47 

New Years Eve Activities 

An illustration of a two parents and a child dancing to music in their living room.The CDC recommends ringing in the new year with only people in your household. See the recommendations issued for a safe new year celebration below.

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Updated: December 30, 2020 12:10

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

A Mosaic of 9 people wearing masks with brightly colored backgroundsThe PA Department of Health has created a COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions webpage to provide up to date information on the vaccines. The site already has answers for many questions and includes links to various resources including the PA COVID Interim Vaccination Plan.

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Updated: December 30, 2020 11:59

PA Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Information

The PA department of Health logo with that text and a keystone image.The Pennsylvania Department of Health recently published its new COVID-19 Vaccine Information page. This FAQ page reviews Pennslyvania's role in distributing the newly approved FDA Pfizer and Moderna emergency use authorization (EUA) COVID-19 vaccines including details on the three-phase system.

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Updated: December 23, 2020 12:39

Celebrating Winter Holidays

A birdseye view of a wooden table with holly, pomegranate seeds, and a pinecone sitting on it. Photo by pexels user Jessica Lewis. Photo used courtesy of the remaining winter holidays fast approaching, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new one-page graphic resource for Celebrating the Winter Holidays.  There is also an accessible version and other winter holiday tips available here 

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Updated: December 23, 2020 12:00

Reducing Food Insecurity and Nutrition-Related Chronic Diseases During COVID Among Medicaid HCBS Beneficiaries

A birds eye view of a table with a white table cloth and various veggies and grain dishes. Photo by pexels user Ella Olsson. Photo used courtesy of Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a new training program. ACL and CMS host a monthly webinar series that invites subject matter experts and practitioners from across the home-and-community-based services (HCBS) spectrum to share insights and best practices to develop high-quality HCBS services and programs.  

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Updated: December 23, 2020 11:38


CDC Releases Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States

The CDC co branded logo with US Department of health and human services. Background is ocean blue with an minimalist illustration of an eagle in the DHS logoThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released interim recommendations for the use of both the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines published by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. 

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Updated: December 22, 2020 14:20

The Similarities Between Autism and Lockdown

A picture of four sticky notes on a wall reading "Stay Home - Be Safe - Keep your distance - Don't go out"We wanted to share some food for thought with an interesting perspective from a woman with autism named Liv. Liv posted an article, What Lockdown Can Teach Us About Being Autistic, that highlights the similarities between the lived experience of autistic people and COVID-19 imposed lockdowns.

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Updated: December 17, 2020 17:00

Preserving Disability History

The Western PA Disability History & Action Consortium logo featuring that text within the Pennsylvania border.On Wednesday, December 16, the Pennsylvania State Archives featured the Western PA Disability History and Action Consortium during its Community History Dialog webinar series. The series seeks to assist community leaders in efficiently documenting and archiving their community's unique history. The Western PA Disability History and Action Consortium was highlighted for its effective partnerships resulting in early growth and sustainability.

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Updated: December 17, 2020 16:29

Check Yourself!

A person checking their smart watch which is displaying a red heart symbol. Photo used courtesy of in...How are you doing? How are the people you are supporting doing? As this pandemic continues, some people may be feeling isolated and lonely which is why it is so important to tend to our well-being.

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Updated: December 16, 2020 17:18


Updated ODP EVV Guidance

A hand holding a smartphone to a camera displaying a website with a search bar.The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) has updated its guidance pertaining to Electronic Visit Verification (EVV). The updated guidance document is version 2.0 of the Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) TECHNICAL Guidance for Personal Care Services. The resource provides ODP-specific EVV technical information for stakeholders.

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Updated: December 15, 2020 15:11

Woman With Autism Brings Unusual Message To The Streets

A woman standing on a street corner with a sign reading the revolution of love is hereToday we wanted to highlight this article that focuses on Sarah Still, a 38 year-old woman with autism who has found a way to help people smile during COVID-19 by standing on street corners holding up signs of positivity and hope for all who cross her path.

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Updated: December 11, 2020 16:08

Today is Human Rights Day!

A photo of a group of people lined up facing a sunset with their hands up. Photo by pexels user Min An. Photo used courtesy of Tom Wolf recently signed a declaration that decrees December as Human Rights Month and December 10 as Human Rights Day. In the declaration, Governor Wolf praises the work of the Office of Developmental Programs and its partners, emphasizing the commitment to expanding civil liberties for individuals with disabilities and/or autism. 

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Updated: December 10, 2020 11:38

Communication and... Series now available on MyODP

We wanted to inform you that there is a new resource series available on  The series, Communication and… was developed by the BSASP’s Special Populations Unit in collaboration with ASERT.

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Updated: December 8, 2020 16:10

Pandemic Helpline Launches For People With IDD & Their Caregivers

A photo of a red handheld telephone on a white background.The Disability Scoop has highlighted a new Helpline for people with IDD and their caregivers to use during COVID-19.  As the pandemic wears on, a new 24-hour support line is working to help individuals with developmental disabilities and those who care for them to cope during this tough time.

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Updated: December 7, 2020 17:58

How to Protect Yourself and Others

A man helping his son put on a mask and lovingly holding his face. Photo used courtesy of Photo by Pexels user Ketut Subiyanto.As daily COVID rates continue to increase throughout PA, we wanted to make sure everyone had the most up to date guidance on how to keep yourselves and others safe. The CDC has recently included this reminder on their COVID resources page.

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Updated: December 3, 2020 1:58

COVID Fatigue: Maintaining Mental Health During a Global Pandemic

A woman sits tired and slumped at a computer sitting on a dining room table as her children run around in the background. Photo by pexels user Ketut Subiyanto. Used courtesy of has released a new video on COVID Fatigue: Maintaining Mental Health During a Global Pandemic. This video provides tips and tools for how to manage the mental health stresses that come along with a global pandemic. There is also a pdf Video Overview that includes additional resources to support positive emotional health.

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Updated: December 3, 2020 12:49

New CDC Guidance - Protect your Home from COVID-19

A poster from the CDC reading "Prevent COVID-19 in your Home. Stay Six feet from others, Wear a Mask, Wash your hands." The image features a woman dressed as a nurse waving goodbye to her family sitting around the dinner table as she leaves the house. She is wearing a mask as she walks towards a person who is indicated as having COVID-19, but her and her home are contained in bubbles.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidance for keeping COVID-19 out of your home. The guidance, issued on November 30, 2020, emphasizes the importance of vigilance even when occupying spaces you feel safe in, like your home. If only one person in your home is exposed to COVID-19 then the entire household is at risk of contracting the virus. What can we do to minimize the risk of household exposure and what should we do if there has been suspected exposure in your home?

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Updated: December 1, 2020 12:04

ODP Podcast - A Supporter's Toolbox

The MyODP Podcast logo containing that text in lowercase font Next to a microphone in a square blue borderIf you haven't already heard the MyODP Podcast, ODP encourages you to enjoy this latest capacity-building effort. The ODP Podcast is an audio series on a dedicated topic with a targeted audience in mind. Each podcast in our first series, A Supporter's Toolbox, has a duration of 7-10 minutes and focuses on getting tools to Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and other supporters.

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Updated: December 1, 2020 10:04

Holiday Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

ODP has developed the attached Holiday Safety Poster based on Center for Disease Control (CDC) and PA Department of Health (DOH) recommendations.

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Updated: November 25, 2020 17:13

Social Stories for the Holidays

The PA ASERT Logo with that text inside the Pennsylvania map boarder on a purple backgroundPA ASERT has updated their collection of social stories available on their COVID-19 resource page. The newest social story, Holidays in 2020 helps to explain what will be different about holiday celebrations and gatherings due to COVID-19. This may be especially helpful to share with those who are struggling with how to engage with loved ones during this holiday season.

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Updated: November 25, 2020 09:52

As COVID-19 Cases Reach Critical Levels, Wolf Admin Announces New Mitigation Efforts

a 3D rendering of the Coronavirus COVID-19Harrisburg, Pa.—With new modeling projecting 22,000 new COVID-19 cases per day in Pennsylvania in December, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today announced new targeted mitigation measures to help stop the spread during this critical time. These include a robust enforcement plan targeted at chronic violators along with an effort to ensure schools are safe and in compliance with COVID safety plans. The administration is also encouraging Pennsylvanians to limit unnecessary travel and stay at home.

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Updated: November 23, 2020 15:23

ODP Organized Health Care Delivery Systems Training 

for Supports Coordination Organizations Leadership and Administrative Entities

The PA DHS logo containing a keystone with a family in it. The text below the logo reads The Office of Developmental Programs ODP is pleased to announce a training opportunity for SCO and AE Leadership to learn more about the new language outlined in Appendix K that allows SCOs to become willing and qualified Organized Health Care Delivery Systems Training (OHCDS) providers.

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Updated: November 20, 2020 12:50

Holiday Celebration Guidance

ODP encourages you to follow State and CDC recommendations to stay safe during the holiday season 

A fully lit menorah sits on a table strewn with holiday food and goodies. Photo by pexels user Ksenia Chernaya. Photo used courtesy of holiday season is fast approaching while COVID-19 cases are surging across the commonwealth. ODP encourages all stakeholders to observe the holidays through safe celebration as guided by our state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations 

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Updated: November 19, 2020 13:00

How to Store and Wash Masks

An illustration of a mask being dunked into a tub of suds with a bottle of detergent in the background. Used courtesy of the CDC.We are all in the groove of wearing masks to do our part in mitigating COVID-19. But, are you sure when or how often to clean your mask?  Do you know how to properly store your mask to reuse later?

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Updated: November 19, 2020 12:00


Celebrating Thanksgiving CDC Guidance

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Updated: November 17, 2020 17:00

Pressure Injury Prevention Day - November 19

A picture of three hospital beds. Photo by pexels user Pixbay. Used courtesy of Pexels,comAs declared by The National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel (NPIAP), and officially signed into recognition by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Thursday, November 19, 2020 marks Pressure Injury Prevention Day. 

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Updated: November 17, 2020 16:45


Things to consider when supporting a Deaf-Blind individual during COVID-19

The PA ASERT Logo containing that text in a border shaped like the state of Pennsylvania with a purple and teal background

ODP and PA ASERT recently published a document containing suggestions for professionals supporting deaf-blind individuals through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Updated: November 13, 2020 12:00



Staying Healthy During The Holidays

A photo of Christmas ornaments sitting on a table. Photo by pexels user Used courtesy of holiday season is fast approaching. A time normally known for gathering with loved ones near and far will surely prove impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As case numbers continue to grow by the day, we will each want to ensure we are taking the appropriate steps to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe while celebrating. 

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Updated: November 12, 2020 14:09


Common Mask Issues and How to Fix Them

A chart reading common mask issues and solutions. Accessible text in full article.Today we wanted to pass along another visual resource shared with us by the Office of Administration. Experiencing mask discomfort? There’s a solution for that! Check out common mask issues and how to fix them. Correctly wearing your mask, washing your hands and social distancing can help to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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Updated: November 4, 2020 15:22

Autism & The Courts: Statewide Panel

Nov. 17, 2020 from 3 - 4:30 P.M.

Banner with a blue background reading Autism & the Courts: A Statewide Panel, November 17th from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pmCommitted to access to justice for Pennsylvanians with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, along with the Department of Human Services (DHS) is pleased to announce an upcoming virtual forum – Autism and the Courts – a Statewide Discussion, aimed at learning about court experiences from individuals with ASD.

Spearheaded by Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty on behalf of the Court, and Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations Director Regina Wall, the virtual kick-off roundtable will be held Nov. 17, with regionally scheduled discussions to follow.

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Updated: November 3, 2020 13:41


When to Stay Home

A man in a white tee shirt holding a sign that says "Stay home if you are sick! #COVID19"On Monday, October 26 Pennsylvania reported a record-breaking 2,284 new COVID-19 cases. This marks the largest rate of daily reported cases since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. With numbers on the rise again, ODP wants to remind our stakeholders of proper social isolation and quarantine guidance when you or a loved one have had suspected contact with a COVID-19 positive individual. It has been a while since we covered the basics but is imperative that we each keep up with our individual responsibility to keep ourselves and others safe and healthy.

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Updated: November 2, 2020 17:00


A message from ODP Deputy Secretary Kristin Ahrens

Autumn trees with yellow and red leaves with a blue sky backgroundTo the ID/A Community,

October 27  marks a painful anniversary for Pennsylvania—and for our nation.  Two years ago today, in Pittsburgh, 11 lives were taken during the brutal attack on the Tree of Life/L’Simcha synagogue. Three of those people were members of the ID/A community. While we send strength and loving energy to the bereaved families and friends of all of those who perished that day, we are reminded of the need to keep their memories alive, and to do all we can to muster the courage and hope to navigate times that test us to the core.

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Updated: October 27, 2020 17:05


Understanding Quarantine AIDinPA Resources

The AIDinPA logo reading those words and 'Autism and Intellectual Disabilities in Pennsylvania' with an orange keystone iconAIDinPA has released a new set of resources about Understanding Quarantine during COVID-19 including a video and a printable resource.

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Updated: October 27, 2020 14:00


Remembering Disability Advocacy Visionary Graham Mulholland

Graham Mulholland sits for an interview in a film studio. Used Courtesy of Temple University.Disability Advocacy scholar, Graham Mulholland, passed away last weekend. Mulholland, a lifelong disability advocate with over 30 years of direct support and policy experience, was a past director of the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council and a member of ODP's Information Sharing and Advisory Committee.

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Updated: October 27, 2020 13:45


Public Safety During COVID-19

Today we wanted to pass along a helpful visual resource shared with us by the Office of Administration. For many of us, using public transportation is a regular part of the day. But, using it can pose a risk if precautions aren’t taken.

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Updated: October 20, 2020 15:43


ODP Encourages you to Vote!

Today is the last day to register!

An image of a sandwich board reading "VOTING DAY" next to a roll of stickers reading 'I VOTED'Election day is right around the corner! The PA Office of Developmental Programs encourages all individuals, families, and professionals to (safely!) cast their ballot by the November 3 election day. COVID-19 has introduced many barriers to our everyday lives, and we've seen many changes to ballot-casting in response. While it is important to keep all health and safety guidelines at the front of your mind, it is equally important to exercise your right to vote. This article will provide helpful tips, resources, and timelines to make sure your vote is counted safely. 

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Updated: October 19, 2020 09:34


PATC Rewind: The Personal Stories Collection

An illustration of a lightbulb with the text PATC: InnovateWe hope everyone who was able to join us at this year’s Pennsylvania Autism Training Conference (PATC) found it as inspiring as we did. For those of you who were not able to attend, many of the resources shared at PATC are available for download available on the PATC 2020 section on  

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Updated: October 19, 2020 09:18

PADDC Seeking Stakeholder Input by October 21

The PADDC LogoThe Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council (PADDC) is currently seeking input from stakeholders to assist in the development of their Five Year Strategic Plan. The PADDC is a state-affiliated organization that engages in advocacy, systems change, and capacity building for people with developmental disabilities and their families. 

The PADDC relies heavily on stakeholder feedback to create it's Five Year Strategic Plan. Feedback can be submitted by individuals and families through a survey on the PADDC website.

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Updated: October 13, 2020 14:40

Similarities and Differences Between Flu & COVID-19

A woman sitting on the floor covered by a blanket and blowing her nose into a tissueIt is that time of year when Fall and Winter months bring flu season. And, although the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 look and feel similar, the two are caused by different viruses. To better understand the similarities and differences between the two contagious, respiratory illnesses, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) page that outlines this for you.

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Updated: October 9, 2020 14:40

Registration now open for 2020 Lifesharing Conference

The PA Lifesharing Coalition logo reading that text above a silhouetted image of a crowd of people supporting a tree to stand up within a frame of Pennsylvania's shape.Registration is now open for the 2020 Lifesharing Virtual Conference. The conference, spearheaded by the Pennsylvania Lifesharing Coalition, will take place on October 26 and October 27. The Lifesharing Conference will feature keynote sessions, breakout sessions, and interactive activities to relate the latest in best lifesharing practices. Featured keynote speakers include Al Condeluci, PhD and Dave Hingsburger, who was a keynote speaker during the 2020 Everyday Lives Conference as well. 

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Updated: October 9, 2020 10:03


COVID Alert PA Reminder

A digital rendering of the Coronavirus pathogen. Photo by pexels user CDC. Used Courtesy of Tuesday, September 25, the Governor announced the availability of the COVID Alert PA app.

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Updated: October 6, 2020 16:30

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

A woman with down syndrome sitting at a computer on a conference call. Photo by pexels user Cliff Booth. Used Courtesy of September 21 Governor Tom Wolf signed into effect a proclamation dubbing October 2020 Down Syndrome Awareness Month. In the proclamation, Wolf reiterates his administration's commitment to empowering Pennsylvanians with disabilities in living their everyday lives.

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Updated: October 2, 2020 14:32

PATC: Innovate - Day 3 Wrap up

An illustration of a lightbulb with the text PATC: InnovateThank you to all who attended the 13th Annual Pennsylvania Autism Training Conference - PATC: Innovate. The ODP team is committed to providing pertinent practice information to assist professionals and individuals now more than ever. We hope that the three-day virtual conference offered you inspiring and thought-provoking information that you can effectively utilize as we continue to navigate these difficult times

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Updated: October 1, 2020 18:00


PATC: Innovate - Day 2 Wrap up

An illustration of a lightbulb with the text PATC: InnovateDay two of the Pennsylvania Autism Training Conference (PATC) has been described as powerful, thought-provoking, and inspiring. If you missed Gabriel Nathan's session "Bringing Your Personal Narratives to Life," you may want to check out some of his work through OC87 Recovery Diaries or his documentary on suicide awareness.

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Updated: September 30, 2020 18:00


PATC: Innovate - Day 1 Wrap up

The 13th Annual Pennsylvania Autism Training Conference (PATC) has kicked off and is in full swing! We are hoping you plan on joining. In case you missed the conference keynote today presented by Julia Bascom, Executive Director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), we wanted to share the important reminder that Julia noted during her talk on "Innovation in Challenging Times: Promising Trends in the Disability Response to COVID-19."

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Updated: September 29, 2020 17:14


PATC 2020 Reminder

PATC Logo featuring an illustration of a lightbulbHopefully, by now you have seen our emails about the virtual Pennsylvania Autism Training Conference (PATC) next week beginning Tuesday, September 29th and ending Thursday, October 1st.  Good news! There are still spots available for most of the sessions.

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Updated: September 24, 2020 15:19


PA DHS Introduces COVID Alert PA

An illustration of two cell phones displaying 'Covid Alert PA' with coronavirus bodies in the background and text at the bottom reading PA Unites Against COVID.On September 22, Pennsylvania Department of Health released the COVID Alert PA exposure notification application. It is now live in the Google and Apple stores, and you can download it for free.

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Updated: September 24, 2020 12:11


What Is Your Superpower?

The #ASDNext Logo featuring that text in handwritten scrawl across a blue background boxToday we want to highlight another  #ASDNext blog post. What's Your Superpower? Is a brief post by blogger Sarah Matincheck where she talks about how she uses her superpowers to look on the bright side of things during COVID-19.

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Updated: September 22, 2020 19:01


Impact of COVID-19 on Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

The American Journal of Psychiatry logo with those words in simple text on a green background.Today we wanted to share a letter to the editor of the American Journal of Psychiatrist that focuses on the Impact of COVID-19 on individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities. The letter breaks down the challenges of support during this time and offers a broad consideration for how each of these challenges needs to be included in response to this pandemic.

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Updated: September 16, 2020 12:00


DSP Appreciation Week: A message from Governor Tom Wolf

The seal for the Pennsylvania Governor's OfficeIn honor of DSP Appreciation Week (September 13 - September 19), we'd like to reshare Governor Tom Wolf's message of appreciation for all direct support professionals across Pennsylvania.

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Updated: September 15, 2020 12:08


Mask Resources for Children  

A woman assists a child in properly wearing a face mask.With the school year underway for Pennsylvanians, we wanted to share the attached document. This document was created by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and compiles several resources to use when teaching and promoting mask wearing for children in a variety of situations.  

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Updated: September 14, 2020 16:30


PATC 2020 Registration Now Open!

September 29 – October 1, 2020

An illustration of a lightbulb with the text PATC: InnovateODP's Pennsylvania Autism Training Conference (PATC) will be taking the virtual stage in late September through early October. Due to the ongoing pandemic, this free-to-attend conference will be conducted virtually through an interactive three-day schedule that will include presentations and panels from subject matter experts, providers, self-advocates, and families. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been creative work and innovations to our system that will be highlighted at this conference, hopefully inciting excitement and sparking passion to continue this, at times, difficult work.

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Updated: September 11, 2020 15:24


DSP Appreciation Week: September 13-19, 2020

An open thank you note on a table reading 'Thank you!' in purple opulent script. Photo by pexels user Photo used courtesy of Support Professionals (DSPs) assist, support, and care for individuals who require help in their daily lives and routines. The week of September 13 -19 is a chance to honor the contributions our DSPs make during Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week. Governor Wolf issued a proclamation to bring awareness to the extraordinary contributions these individuals make in the lives of the elderly, veterans, and those with intellectual, developmental, or other disabilities.

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Updated: September 11, 2020 15:12


Sexual Abuse During the COVID-19

Op-ed by Beverly Frantz, Temple University Institute on Disabilities Director of Criminal Justice and Sexuality Initiatives

Headshot of Dr. Beverly FrantzAs Pennsylvania has eased restrictions and begun to lift stay-at-home orders the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization expects the need for sexual assault support and services to increase as the pandemic continues. Scott Berkowitz, president of RAINN reported, “As we saw throughout the early weeks of the pandemic, many children lost access to trusted adults, like teachers, and parents of friends, who are typically the first people to spot and reports signs of abuse.”

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Updated: September 11, 2020 14:44


An Important Perspective on Race & Disability

A picture displaying police lights on top of a police cruiser. Photo by pexels user Pixbay. Photo used courtesy of, there have been several high-profile cases involving interactions between police and individuals with mental health or autism diagnoses such as Linden Barton, Matthew Rushin, and Daniel Prude. As important conversations continue about the role of mental health, race, and disability in police reform, we thought it was important to share a  recent article from Forbes.

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Updated: September 10, 2020 20:42


ODP Webinars

An icon in a blue circle containing a computer screen with a play button. 'Webinars' is displayed next to it.Did you know that you can view all of our previous webinars? In light of the current pandemic, ODP has been offering a greater amount of online webinars to keep providers, individuals, families, and stakeholders in the loop.

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Updated: September 9, 2020 10:05


MyODP Reaches One Hundred Thousand Users

Image that says MyODP 100k users with confetti aroundMyODP launched on October 3rd, 2016, and just under four years later, over 100,000 user accounts have been registered!

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Updated: September 4, 2020 15:07


Staying Safe this Holiday Weekend

Infograph containing: Hosting a BBQ? When Guests arrive, Smile and wave; don't hug or shake hands and provide masks or ask guest to bring theirs. By the grill, limit people in food preparation areas, assign individuals to prepare or service food, utensils, or condiments, clean and disinfect touched surfaces. At the tables, spread out tables and chairs, take turns visiting the food table, indicate hand washing or sanitizing areas, wash your hands before eating or handling food.Having close family and friends over for a small BBQ this Labor Day? You can still have a great time while observing appropriate social distancing and safety guidelines. Small actions like waving instead of hugging and providing sanitizing areas make a big difference.

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Updated: September 4, 2020 11:22


Support While Receiving Medical Treatment During COVID-19

The Disability Rights PA banner featuring those words, an keystone icon containing the letters DRP. The backdrop is the PA capital building under a blue filterDisability Rights Pennsylvania has an excellent resource that reviews the rights of patients with disabilities and their application during COVID-19. The attached document answers important questions about medical treatment during COVID-19.

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Updated: September 4, 2020 09:43


Keystone Chosen as Zero Project Finalist

The Keystone logo reading 'Keystone Autism Services' Featuring a prominent Keystone shape. Used Courtesy of Keystone Human Services.The Pennsylvania-based provider Keystone Autism Services has been selected as one of the finalists for the Zero Project 2021. The Zero Project is an initiative of the Essl Foundation based in Austria that seeks to promote the rights of people with disabilities globally. The project connects over 4,000 experts across the globe, some with and some without disabilities, with the intent of addressing systemic societal problems that people with disabilities face every day.

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Updated: September 3, 2020 19:45


Update for ODP Providers who Received Act 24 CARES Funding

A banner that reads "What you need to know about the CARES act" Used courtesy of APThe following is an update for ODP Providers who received Act 24 CARES Funding. Per previous communications on August 11 and August 26, providers were asked to submit contact information for expense reporting.  As of September 1, the 385 providers on the attached list have not provided valid contact information.  For these providers, ODP has submitted your legal entity contact e-mail address to DHS as a contact point for reporting. 

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Updated: September 3, 2020 15:45



CCAP Trauma-Informed Virtual Education Series

The silhouette of a woman sitting on a pier with her head between her knees. Photo by Pexels user Pixbay. Photo used courtesy of The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania is holding a series of virtual training sessions aimed at equipping county staff and administrative entities with information and interpersonal skills when working with a person who has experienced trauma. 

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Updated: September 1, 2020 17:37



A Reminder About Masks During Service Delivery      

An icon displaying a face mask around a blue circleAs PA continues to reopen and people are getting more comfortable being out in the community, we wanted to remind everyone that the  Guidance on Masks, Screening and Handwashing  must still be followed when providing direct services. Specifically, we wanted to highlight the first section of the document.

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Updated: August 26, 2020 17:00


Transition Tuesdays with The PEAL Center

The Event Logo containing the words 'Transition Tuesdays! A webinar series. Steps for successful secondary transition.'Starting September, The PEAL Center in Pittsburgh will be hosting the Transition Tuesdays webinar series on the fourth Tuesday of every month. Individuals and families with youth ages 13 through 21 with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are encouraged to register to learn about methods for secondary transition planning to facilitate an individual's progress towards education, employment, and community living.

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Updated: August 25, 2020 15:43


AIDinPA: Water and Pool Safety Webinar Now Available 

A point of view photo of a person dipping their legs in a pool. Photo by pexels user Sarah Schorer. Used courtesy of Pexels.comAIDinPA has released a new webinar on  Water and Pool Safety.  This webinar is for self-advocates to review water and pool safety.  This webinar provides tips for self-advocates on how to stay safe in the water. Pools, water parks, and natural bodies of water, like oceans and lakes are covered, as well as the unique features of each to be aware of when enjoying time in the water. 

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Updated: August 24, 2020 15:34


DSP Stories During COVID-19

A woman who uses a wheelchair laughing with a friend. Photo by pexels user Judita Tamošiūnaitė. Used courtesy of University of Minnesota’s  Institute on Community Integration, along with the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals  (NADSP), and the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) have collected stories from Direct Support Processionals (DSPs) about what they are doing during the coronavirus pandemic. 

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Updated: August 23, 2020 12:00


Believe in Me: Insights of a Nonspeaking College-Bound Autistic Student  

College students with backpacks walking on campus away from the camera. Photo by pexels user Stanley Morales. Used Courtesy of we wanted to share an important perspective from a self-advocate as a reminder of neurodiversity. In  this article, Rachel Kripke-Ludwig describes her experience going through school as a nonspeaking autistic person, while reframing expectations for herself and the expectations of others about what she could do with her future.   

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Updated: August 22, 2020 12:00


Job Accommodations during COVID-19

A man sitting at a desk on a computer. Photo by pexels user Startup Stock Photos. Used courtesy of has created significant barriers by disrupting employment and job opportunities for all, especially those on the autism spectrum. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides free, expert, and confidential assistance on accommodations for work and the job search.

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Updated: August 21, 2020 17:30


Mindfulness at Work

Two women doing yoga. One is lying on her back. Photo by Pexels user Cliff Booth. Used courtesy of we continue to think of ways to keep ourselves grounded and focused during these unprecedented times, we wanted to expand upon some of the  previous resources we have shared on mindfulness. 

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Updated: August 21, 2020 12:00


Psychological PPE to Support DSP's

A woman wearing a face mask looking out a window. Photo by Pexels User EVG Culture. Photo used couresty of COVID-19 continues to create increased risk for staff burnout and other psychological concerns, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement had released some new resources on ways to support staff during extreme working conditions.   

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Updated: August 20, 2020 10:30


Tips to Address Mask Use of Others in Public

A woman wearing a face mask observing fruit in the grocery store. Photo by Pexels User Anna Shvets. Photo used couresty of  recent essay from offers some guidance on what to do when a maskless person makes you anxious during COVID-19.  The essay offers four tips from a trauma therapist that aim to help lessen anxiety and set boundaries for yourself when interacting with others in the community during COVID-19.     

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Updated: August 18, 2020 17:00


100 Things to do While Stuck Inside Due to a Pandemic

Father and son sit on the sofa looking at their phones. Photo by pexels user August de Richelieu. Photo used courtesy of many of us are still staying home as much as possible to decrease the risk of COVID-19, we thought it might be helpful to share a few ideas of things to do while stuck inside, especially for those of us who are getting a little bored of what we have been doing for the past 5 months.

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Updated: August 16, 2020 17:00


#ASDNext blogs

The #ASDNext logo#ASDNext has posted a few new blogs during COVID-19 that we want to make sure everyone checks out. For those unfamiliar, #ASDNext is an initiative of ASERT  that provides a platform for teens and young adults with autism transition to “adult” life after school.

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Updated: August 14, 2020 17:30


PA Self-Advocate Bill Krebs Featured on PBS NewsHour

A screencap of Bill Krebs on PBS Newshour.To honor the 30-year anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), PBS NewsHour recently aired a segment featuring the perspectives of self-advocates. Of the six self-advocates from across the country, Bill Krebs of Philadelphia offered his insight on how life has changed since the passing of the ADA and where we need continuous improvement as a country.

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Updated: August 14, 2020 17:00


More Mindfulness Resources for COVID-19

A man meditating in an open room. Photo by pexels user Andrea Piacquadio. Used courtesy of Pexels.comAnxiety and fear are natural reactions to the unknown and COVID-19 continues to create some uncertainty in all our lives. Here are some resources to help stay centered.

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    Updated: August 14, 2020 17:00


    DHS Announces MMIS Platform Project Website is now Live

    The PA DHS logoThe Pennsylvania Department of Human Services announced Thursday the Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) 2020 Platform Project website is now live. DHS is seeking to replace the previous Medicare/Medicaid back-office billing system PROMISe with MMIS - a new modular system that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services believes will reduce cost, risk, and complexity of projects.

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    Updated: August 14, 2020 16:35


    CDC Guidance for Going Out  

    A woman standing under a building awning with a face mask on. Photo by pexels user Anna Shvets. Used courtesy of Pexels.comThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently updated the  Going Out section of their COVID-19 resources.  This section breaks down guidelines and precautions by category and provides specific recommendations and resources for each topic.   

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    Updated: August 10, 2020 17:00


    COVID-19 Impact on the Neurodiverse Community

    The Stanford University LogoStanford University has posted  an interview with Dr. Lawrence Fung, the Director of the Stanford Neurodiversity Project about the impact of COVID-19 on the neurodiverse community

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    Updated: August 9, 2020 12:00


    COVID-19 Etiquette: Six Common Conundrums

    Three people in lab coats wearing face masks talking. Photo by pexels user Gustavo Fring. Photo used courtesy of Public Radio (NPR) has posted a  useful article and audio clip  that provides information on how to handle six common social situations that arise during COVID-19. 

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    Updated: August 8, 2020 12:00


    Maximizing Resources

    The Positive Approaches Journal logoCOVID-19 has forced providers to be creative with how they manage programs to support individuals. So, we thought it would be a good time to reshare Positive Approaches Journal Volume 8, Issue 4, Maximizing Resources.

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    Updated: August 7, 2020 17:00


    Creating a Social Bubble

    A soap bubble floating in front of a black backgroundAre you or someone you support looking for ways to feel less isolated and connected during this pandemic? AIDinPA has released a new video about creating a Social Bubble during COVID-19. A Social Bubble is a specific group of people that decide they would like to socialize with each other during COVID-19.

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    Updated: August 7, 2020 12:21


    Diabetes and COVID-19

    A person's hands checking their blood sugar levels. Photo by pexels user PhotoMIX Company. Photo used courtesy of pexelsMany of you may support individuals who have diabetes and are looking for resources to help explain and clarify information circulating about the increased risk for complications from COVID-19 that individuals with diabetes may experience. The American Diabetes Association has released a simple language  FAQ that includes answers to many questions people may ask about COVID-19 and diabetes.

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    Updated: August 6, 2020 11:12


    Governor Wolf releases “Trauma-Informed PA” plan

    Governor Tom Wolf stands at a podium giving an address.As a companion to Governor Tom Wolf’s multi-agency effort and anti-stigma initiative, Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters, the Office of Advocacy and Reform (OAR) is releasing the “Trauma-Informed PA” plan to guide the Commonwealth and service providers statewide on what it means to be trauma-informed and healing-centered in PA.

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    Updated: August 5, 2020 11:00


    Human Services Secretary Reminds Pennsylvanians That They Can Access Federal Stimulus Money Without Jeopardizing Benefits 

    Secretary of Human Services Teresa Miller poses smiling in front of the American Flag.Harrisburg, PA – As part of a press release issued on August 4, 2020, Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today reminded Pennsylvanians who receive assistance in the form of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or Medical Assistance that the CARES Act Economic Impact Payments do not  affect their benefits.   

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    Updated: August 5, 2020 10:50


    NCI Data on Racial Disparities during COVID-19

    The NCI Logo Reading National Core Indicators - NASDDDS & HRSIA recent bulletin from National Core Indicators (NCI) helps to explain racial disparities among adults with IDD during COVID-19.  The brief report highlights data collected during In-Person Surveys (IPS) conducted during 2018-19 showing known risk factors for COVID-19 as higher among racial and ethnic minorities with IDD.

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    Updated: August 4, 2020 14:22


    More Resources re: Supporting Mask Wearing

    A woman putting on a face mask. Photo by pexels user Polina Tankilevich. Used courtesy of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHO)P has recently released  updated information about mask-wearing targeted towards children with autism and their families. While we acknowledge that some individuals on the autism spectrum may not tolerate mask wearing for a variety of reasons, these strategies may help to promote mask wearing for any individual who may not tolerate mask-wearing and would benefit from a more tailored approach to build this skill.

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    Updated: August 4, 2020 13:00


    Philadelphia Self-Advocacy Pioneer Roland Johnson Recognized by The New York Times

    Roland Johnson stands next to President George H.W. Bush both admiring the newly signed American's with Disabilities Act. Photo used Courtesy of AB Historic/Alamy.As a part of their new series, Overlooked, the New York Times has written a newly published feature highlighting the life and work of Philadelphia Self-Advocacy Pioneer Roland JohnsonOverlooked seeks to highlight important stories of the twentieth century that had gone unreported by the Times.

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    Updated: August 3, 2020 13:11


    Positive COVID-19 News

    A person giving a thumbs up in front of a red background. Photo by pexels user Oleg Magni. Photo used courtesy of pexels.comIt’s been a while since we shared optimistic COVID-19 news. So, we are highlighting a recent piece in the Washington Post,  Need some good news about COVID-19? Here are six reasons for optimism

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    Updated: August 2, 2020 12:00


    Hazard Preparation for People with Disabilities

    A person writing in a notepad. Photo by pexels user Karolina Grabowski. Used courtesy of The University of Kansas’ Research and Training Center on Independent Living had created a handy guide for preparing for hazards for people with disabilities.

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    Updated: August 1, 2020 12:00


    2020 Pennsylvania Autism Training Conference

    The PATC 2020 logo reading: PATC Innovate. An illustration of an incandescent light bulb is the centerpiece. ODP's Pennsylvania Autism Training Conference (PATC) will be taking the virtual stage in late September through early October. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the conference will be conducted virtually through an interactive three-day schedule that will include presentations and panels from subject matter experts, providers, self-advocates, and families alike. Registration information to follow in September.

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    Updated: July 31, 2020 15:27


    Census: Door-to-Door Interview Deadline Ending September 30

    The 2020 US Census LogoThe Census Bureau announced on July 30 that door-to-door census surveys will end a month earlier than previously reported. Door-to-door interviews will now end on September 30 versus the previously scheduled October 31 date.

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    Updated: July 31, 2020 13:33


    PA Developmental Disabilities Council Grant Opportunities

    The PADDC LogoThe Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council (PADDC) recently announced two new funding opportunities for organizations and individuals. 

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    Updated: July 31, 2020 13:30


    Penn State Autism Conference Moves Online and is FREE!

    The PA Department of Education LogoThe  National Autism Conference at Penn State hosted by PA's Department of Education and PA Training and Technical Assistance Network (PATTAN) begins Monday August 3rd.  The conference changed to a virtual format in response to the coronavirus pandemic and is available for free!  Anyone can watch the sessions live or watch recorded versions after the session is completed.  

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    Updated: July 31, 2020 11:30


    Cognitive Dissonance 

    A woman looking confused. Photo by pexels user Polina Zimmerman. Used Courtesy of have all seen, heard, or experienced our own contradictions with what we know about COVID, slowing the spread, and Governor's orders. A recent article* provides a comprehensive outline of the role this cognitive dissonance plays in beliefs and actions related to COVID-19. Cognitive dissonance is the “motivational mechanism that underlies the reluctance to admit mistakes or accept scientific findings.”

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    Updated: July 30, 2020 17:00


    PA Department of Labor & Industry Seeking Public Input

    The PA Department of Labor and Industry LogoThe Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry is currently seeking public comment on the proposed  Statewide Funds for Qualifying Event Waiver Plan.

    Background:  In 2018, the commonwealth requested from U.S. DOL an allowance of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, or WIOA, Section 134(a) Statewide Employment and Training Activities for a waiver request denoted as the WIOA Title I Reserved Statewide Funds for Qualifying Events Waiver Plan. U.S. DOL approved the waiver plan on Dec. 3, 2018, adding a condition that allowed the commonwealth to use unobligated prior-year governor’s reserved Rapid Response funds to permit temporary employment for eligible participants. 

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    Updated: July 29, 2020 10:22


    NIH Social Media Resources

    The National Institutes of Health logoIn an effort to encourage people to practice social/physical distancing and to help spread accurate information about COVID-19, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) developed a collection of simple resources to share on social media. 

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    Updated: July 28, 2020 14:55


    Department of Health's Targeted Mitigation FAQ

    The PA Department of Health LogoOn July 15, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine signed new orders for targeted mitigation efforts in response to the recent rise in COVID cases detailing statewide mitigation efforts for bars and restaurants, gatherings, and telework. The new orders took effect at 12:01 a.m., Thursday, July 16, 2020.

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    Updated: July 28, 2020 12:00


    Scientific Benefits of Helping Others

    A woman extending her hand to the camera. Photo by pexels user Fotografirende. Used courtesy of all the uncertainty right now, some of us have been consumed with how the current state of affairs impact our own lives and the lives of the people we love. While this is certainly understanding as we all seek to maintain some semblance of control in our lives, we wanted to take the opportunity to encourage, even challenge you, to take a moment and do one thing for someone else that is not part of your daily personal or work routine.

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    Updated: July 26, 2020 12:00


    COVID-19 Self Help Guides  

    A close up of two hands holding. Photo by pexels user Pixabay. Used courtesy of  Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital, has adapted some general self-help guides making them relevant for individuals with intellectual disabilities during COVID-19.

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    Updated: July 25, 2020 12:00


    Universal Face Coverings Order FAQ 

    A photo of an medical grade face mask sitting on a blue background. Photo by pexels user Anna Shvetz. Used Courtesy of Pexels.comThere still seems to be much confusion about PA’s Universal Face Covering Order. In order to help provide some clarity, see the  Universal Face Coverings Order FAQ issued by Pennsylvania's Department of Health. 

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    Updated: July 24, 2020 15:55

    The New Pennsylvania Medical Assistance ACCESS Card is Here!

    An example of a PA ACCESS CardThe familiar yellow Medical Assistance (MA) ACCESS Card has been redesigned, losing its color, but retaining its functionality. Also removed are the magnetic strip and signature line that had been on the back of the old card.

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    Updated: July 24, 2020 9:30

    Considering Learning Style when Providing Information 

    A person using a hobby knife and a ruler to cut colorful pieces of construction paper. Photo by pexels user Pixbay. Used courtesy of pexels.comThe news and updates related to the pandemic have been rolling out fast and changing constantly. That makes it difficult for anyone to keep up with the most up to date information. This is especially true for individuals that might need additional time to process information or may need the information presented in a different way. 

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    Updated: July 23, 2020 16:40

    The Art & Science of Support

    Five incandescent bulbs hanging and swinging like newton's cradle. Photo by pexels user Rodolfo Clix. Used courtesy of Now, more than ever, the balance of using tools from science (like Applied Behavior Analysis and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and tools that come from the artistic side of support (like hanging in there and learning to listen) is critical to appreciate others' experiences as we navigate new ways of providing services and supports. 

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    Updated: July 22, 2020 16:45

    West Nile Virus: What to Know

    A close-up of a mosquito biting human skin. Photo by Pexels user Jimmy Chan. Used courtesy of pexels.comWe have seen, for this year, both the first case of an individual testing positive for West Nile Virus and scientists have identified the first group of mosquitoes to carry the virus. West Nile Virus is spread by mosquitoes and can cause encephalitis, a condition that causes brain inflammation. The Southern Pennsylvania-Northern Maryland region contains the highest West Nile Virus infection rate in the nation.

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    Updated: July 22, 2020 10:08

    Social Influence During COVID-19

    A woman video chatting a friend while wearing a mask. Photo by pexels user Ivan Samkov. Photo used courtesy of The best way we can promote safe practices during this time is to lead by example. This article illustrates the role of social factors in explaining positive behavior during the pandemic from a behavioral science perspective.

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    Updated: July 21, 2020 15:00


    Public Comment Notice: Pennsylvania's DRAFT WIOA Performance Reporting Policy

    The PA Department of Labor & Industry LogoPennsylvania’s DRAFT Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Performance Reporting Policy is posted on the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry website for public review and comment.

    Public comment opens today and runs through Friday, Aug. 14, 2020 at noon. Please submit comments in writing to:

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    Updated: July 21, 2020 14:42

    Staying Healthy: Where You Live Matters

    Two women sitting on a couch in an apartment talking. Photo by pexels user Cliff Booth. Used courtesy of have already shared a variety of resources from the CDC to help people stay safe during COVID-19. Today we wanted to share a few additional resources focused on preventing the spread of the virus considering different living situations.

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    Updated: July 21, 2020 14:22

    Disability Pride Virtual PA 2020 Event Planned

    The 30th Anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act occurs on July 26, 2020. To coincide with that anniversary, a 30-day Virtual Disability Pride event sponsored by Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium, the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, the Pennhurst Memorial & Preservation Alliance and ADA 30 Pittsburgh and Allegheny County is planned. 

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    Updated: July 20, 2020 18:22

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

    A painting of a neon sign displaying 'Thank you!' Photo by pexels user Gratisography. Used courtesy of’s is no secret that COVID-19 has created complications to service delivery within our programs. But despite the barriers, we want to recognize all the heroes who have been in the field, as well as those providing supports remotely. It is your ability to adapt, shift, accommodate, and modify to this situation that has enabled the people we support to receive the services they depend on and are critical for them to manage this pandemic.

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    Updated: July 19, 2020 12:00

    Teaching Transition Skills During COVID-19

    A note pad and two pencils sitting on a desk. Photo by Pexels user Skitterphoto. Used courtesy of Together Inc. has curated a wonderful resource list for teaching transitional skills during COVID -19. The list includes links to a variety of transition-related resources including, life skills, self-advocacy, employment, and education. 

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    Updated: July 17, 2020 15:45

    COVID-19 MythBusters

    A man stares at a wall covered in papers. Photo by pexels user Startup Stock Photo. Used courtesy of seems like new theories about all things COVID-19 seem to pop up in our news feeds and social media almost daily. Luckily, the World Health Organization (WHO) has made COVID-19 related fact-checking easy for all of us with their  COVID-19 Myth-busters page.

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    Updated: July 17, 2020 09:43

    Competitive Integrated Employment Grants

    The Pennsylvania department of education logoThe Pennsylvania Department of Education Bureau of Special Education is now accepting applications for Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) grants for the 2020 - 2021 school year. CIE Grants help schools fund programs that offer expanded competitive employment opportunities for students with disabilities.

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    Updated: July 16, 2020 11:42

    Supporting Medically Complex Children

    A stethoscope resting on a daily planner. Photo by Pexels user Pixabay. Used courtesy of Pexels.comCOVID-19 has been tough for everyone, but for families with medically complex children, COVID-19 can be especially scary. Most families of children who are medically fragile are isolating and sheltering-in-place and most of these children have not yet been exposed to COVID-19 so there is limited evidence of how COVID-19 is presenting in children who are medically fragile or complex, thus far.

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    Updated: July 15, 2020 16:00

    Social Media: When and What to Post

    A hand holding a cell phone with the Social Media folder open displaying Facebook, Instagram and Twitter applications. Photo by Tracy LeBlanc. Photo courtesy of Pexels.comIn times of heightened emotional responses and potential divide in values and opinions, it is important to consider what we are posting to social media platforms. The information we put online can affect the way we are viewed by others we care about, can be seen by people we don't know (but may in the future - think future boss), and can be chronicled for a long time.

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    Updated: July 15, 2020 11:00

    Small Business Toolkit for Retention of Employees with Disabilities

    Four employees wearing protective gear in a warehouse. Photo by pexels user ELEVATE. Used courtesy of Northeast ADA Center has developed a toolkit designed for employers looking to hire and retain staff with disabilities. The Northeast ADA Center provides information, guidance, and training on the implementation of all aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act whose staff consists of individuals with and without disabilities who have extensive experience in the disability field.

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    Updated: July 14, 2020 19:00

    What is Contact Tracing?

    A woman standing in a town square with a black jacket. People are walking around her. Photo by Pexels user Gustavo Fring. Used courtesy of have heard the term "contract tracing" a lot throughput this pandemic. Contact tracing is the process of identifying, notifying, and monitoring anyone who came in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 while they were infectious.

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    Updated: July 13, 2020 12:00

    More Covid Distractions

    Balls of dough sit on a baking tray with a rolling pin in the background. Photo by Skitterphoto. Used courtesy of article is for those of us who are still spending most of our time at home and could use a good distraction from everything going on in the world. 

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    Updated: July 12, 2020 12:00

    July is Disability Pride Month

    A woman smiling into the camera sitting at a table with her hand on her chin. Photo by Cliff Booth. Used courtesy of is Disability Pride Month and this year it is even more special due to the 30th anniversary of the passing of the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Disability Pride is the idea that people with disabilities should be proud of their disabled identity.

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    Updated: July 11, 2020 12:00

    Resilience and Recovery in the Era of the COVID-19 Pandemic

    A woman helps a young child put on a face mask. Photo by August de Richelieu. Used with permission from Pexels.comLast week we shared an article on How to Build Resilience. For those of you with a research mind or who love a good, scholarly article, we wanted to share a collection of research that builds off that topic. The Journal of Traumatic Stress has released a special issue dedicated to Resilience and Recovery in the Era of COVID19

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    Updated: July 10, 2020 14:15

    Loneliness and Covid: A Self-Advocate's Perspective

    A silhouette of a man looking across a vast lake. Photo by Lukas Rychvalsky. Used Courtesy of Pexels.comby It is important we look to self-advocates for guidance and stories of their experiences when considering how best to support individuals. Today we wanted to share a recent article, Loneliness, and Covid- An Autistic View written by Conor Eldred-Earl, an Autism Advocate and Public Speaker from the UK.

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    Updated: July 9, 2020 17:00

    Social Stigma Associated with COVID-19

    The World Health Organization LogoToday we wanted to share this resource from the World Health Organization (WHO) that addresses social stigma in the context of COVID 19.  

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    Updated: July 8, 2020 17:00

    Understanding Transition Stress

    Woman in a read shirt holding her head between her hands sitting at a table.This year seems like an endless cycle of transitions. From stay-at-home orders to phased reopening plans including drastic changes in community experiences, it seems like we will continue to need to adjust to changes in our routines for an extended period. 

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    Updated: July 7, 2020 15:50

    COVID-19 Individual Health Action Plan

    A woman wearing a face mask speaking to a man via a laptop video conferenceToday we wanted to share a helpful tool when planning for care related to possible COVID-19 related treatment or hospitalization.  The Autism COVID-19 Individual Health Action Plan was created to assist individuals with autism to assess and plan for what to do if there is concern about COVID-19 infection.

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    Updated: July 6, 2020 17:00

    Tips for Managing Conflict Over Social Distancing

    Scrabble letters spell out "Social Distancing" on a wooden tableUnfortunately, even after the expansion of Governor Wolf’s mask-wearing order, there continues to be conflict between people about the safety measures recommended to combat COVID-19.  While we believe it is essential to follow all CDC guidance as well as ODP guidance, we also believe that it is necessary to have tools to manage disagreements while maintaining your safety.   

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    Updated: July 5, 2020 12:00

    Happy Fourth of July!

    The US Flag flying in front of the bright blue skyHappy Independence Day, everyone! The barbeques and firework displays that occur during this holiday can be a very overwhelming experience for individuals with sensory processing difficulties associated with Autism, ADHD, and PTSD.  This article reviews some of the most important considerations that need to be taken to help prevent sensory overloads. 

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    Updated: July 4, 2020 12:00

    How To Build Resilience

    A woman facing the ocean with her arms up in a powerful pose.Though some of the individuals we support are among the most resilient people we have ever met, others may lack the requisite skills and characteristics needed to recover from adverse experiences. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. A recent NY Times article, What Makes Some People More Resilient Than Others? discusses the core components of resilient people.

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    Updated: July 3, 2020 12:00

    Masks: Cloth Face Coverings and Surgical Face Masks

    A logo displaying a blue orb wearing a face mask

    In Pennsylvania, masks must be worn whenever anyone leaves home. On July 1, Secretary of Health Rachel Levine signed an official order requiring the universal use of face coverings.

    Masks are mandatory in all public spaces to stop the spread of COVID-19. Staff who provide services must wear a face covering or a mask during the entirety of service provision. The only exception is if the staff person lives with the individual. Masks should be worn by staff and individuals during activities in the community.

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    Updated: July 2, 2020 15:00

    A Champion of Supporting Families

    The Charting the Lifecourse circle that outlines goal oriented planningODP’s Everyday Lives recommendations outline the office’s commitment to creating equitable and fulfilling lives for individuals with intellectual disabilities and/or autism. ODP’s recommendations turn into initiatives spearheaded by subject matter experts who take care to stay ahead of the curve when assessing the evolving initiatives.

    Candida Walton took the mantle of ODP’s Supporting Families Statewide Initiative Coordinator on November 1, 2019, which took her to the helm of recommendation four: Supporting Families Across the Lifespan. Since then, she has been reviewing current practices and assessing what ODP can do to ensure individuals and their chosen families are well-equipped to face the future.

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    Updated: July 2, 2020 14:00

    Staycation vs. Vacation: How to Have Fun and Still Be Safe

    A point of view photo of someone lying in a hammock looking down at their red sneakers.This summer is certainly different from summers of the past, but that doesn’t mean we have to miss out on some good old summer fun! This new AIDinPA resource, Staycation vs. Vacation: How to Have Fun and Still Be Safe, discusses how to stay safe and make the most of time off whether you’re choosing to stay home or get away. So whatever option you choose, take a break, stay safe, and enjoy yourself!

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    Updated: July 2, 2020 13:30

    Why We Wear Masks in Public

    An illustration of various people wearing masks with humble expressionsAre you supporting someone who is struggling to understand the importance of wearing masks in public? Well, today we wanted to share a resource that could be a helpful means in promoting that message.

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    Updated: July 2, 2020 12:05

    CDC Updated Guidance for Direct Service Providers

    The CDC logoThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its COVID-19 guidance for Direct Service Professionals based on frequently asked questions. The update includes more detailed explanations of strategies that focus on a) proactive planning for optimal support, b) supporting distance learning, and c) general COVID-related facts related to this population to inform day to day support.

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    Updated: July 1, 2020 13:42