MyODP News Online

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These articles previously ran on MyODP News Online.

Artists Who Have Found Creative Ways to Offer Hope Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

A hand touching up an oil canvas painting of a lilyIt is easy to get trapped in a sense of hopelessness these days, but art can be a wonderful way to get a much-needed pick-me-up. This article provides links to different ways artists have been creating work to inspire hope during COVID-19.

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Updated: June 28, 2020 12:00

 

 

Compassion Fatigue

Two individuals holding hands at a distanceToday we want to highlight another recent AIDinPA resource, about Compassion Fatigue. In this video, Laura Dadswell from the South Central HCQU, provides information on the concept. She reviews what it is, how to recognize it, as well as ways to help manage and cope if you are experiencing compassion fatigue.

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Updated: June 27, 2020 12:00

 

CDC Communication Toolkit

The CDC logoToday we wanted to share a newly created resource from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The CDC created a communication toolkit to help public health professionals, health departments, community organizations, and healthcare systems and providers reach populations who may need COVID-19 prevention messaging in their native languages.

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Updated: June 26, 2020 12:00

 

 

AIDinPA Emotional Pain Resource 

A man sitting at a table with his head in his handToday we want to highlight a recently added AIDinPA resource, Emotional Pain During a Pandemic. Emotional pain is often dismissed as being less serious than physical pain, but it must be taken seriously.

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Updated: June 25, 2020 17:00

 

 

Recommendations for Supporting Individuals in Healthcare Settings During COVID-19

The awning of a hospital emergency ward reading 'Emergency'Today we want to highlight this article, Overcoming the Challenges of Autism During the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The article provides a simple explanation for issues that may occur in Emergency or Urgent Care settings during COVID19.  It also includes a link to an academic article aimed at providing this information to healthcare providers. 

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Updated: June 24, 2020 17:03

 

 

Assessing Telehealth Readiness

A person with a stethoscope and medical vials sitting at a table on a laptopThe attached file offers an example of a quick survey-based assessment tool to determine if an individual has the skills required to participate in telehealth service delivery. Though developed specifically for practitioners of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), this is an example of something that may be helpful determining if someone will be able to work on goals remotely. 

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Updated: June 23, 2020 17:03

 

 

Guide to Transition: Something For Everyone

An animated illustration of four people smiling as though they are taking a selfieThe Self-Advocate Transition Guide for community re-entry was released last week. With this release, there are now three available transition guides all intended for different audiences. 

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Updated: June 22, 2020 13:03

 

 

There are Good Things Happening

A picture of a table with stacked newspapers, a cup of coffee, and a folded up pair of glassesIn times like this, it is important to focus on good news to put our minds in a positive mental health state. As an update to our previous Good News During COVID-19 post, here are some good news links from this past week to read when you feel yourself or others spiraling.

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Updated: June 21, 2020 12:00

 

 

Promoting Financial Health and Resiliency for People with Disabilities

National Disability Institute logoThe National Disabilities Institute (NDI) has created a simple two-page handout that captures their five strategies and resources to assist individuals in taking steps to maintain their financial health during the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

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Updated: June 20, 2020 12:00

 

 

Recognizing Juneteenth

Three young women sit in a field, embracing each other while smiling at the camera.Today we recognize June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Pennsylvania. Governor Wolf is encouraging Pennsylvanians to reflect on the importance of the state holiday and the continued need for a fair and just society.

“In recent weeks, people around the nation have joined together to demand an end to systemic racism and oppression of African Americans,” said Gov. Wolf. “Freedom for all is not fully realized until every person is truly free. This Juneteenth we have an opportunity to unite against injustice and create lasting change that will make Pennsylvania and our nation a better place for everyone.”

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Updated: June 19, 2020 12:00

 

 

Handling Returning to Work Anxiety and Office Safety

Scrabble letters spelling out 'Anxiety'As more and more businesses reopen, it is important to remain cautious and to practice safe strategies as many individuals will face anxiety or fear of returning to the workplace. Whether you are an employer, employee, or supporting an individual who is returning to work, it is important to review, ask, or preemptively answer these questions

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Updated: June 18, 2020 17:00

 

 

A Reminder About the Support Warm Line

The Pennsylvania Warm line logoDuring these times, it is critical to care for our mental health and the mental health of those we support.  Today we wanted to send a reminder that the PA warm line is available as a resource for those struggling with anxiety, fear, or loneliness during this time. The toll-free, round-the-clock support line is operational and available by calling 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.

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Updated: June 17, 2020 17:09

 

 

Self-Advocate Transition Guide Now Available 

An animated illustration of four people smiling as though they are taking a selfieThe Self-Advocate Transition Guide for community re-entry is now available. The guide, designed in collaboration between ASERT (Autism Services, Education Resources and Training) and SAU1 (Self-Advocates United as 1), can assist individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and/or autism in developing their own self-directed path back into the community during Pennsylvania's yellow and green phases of the commonwealth's COVID-19 response. 

 

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Updated: June 17, 2020 15:09

 

Continue to Be Vigilant! 

A traffic cone sitting in the middle of a roadIn many of our recent articles we have been stressing the importance of staying vigilant with precautionary measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. WebMD has recently posted a new article Intellectual Disability Raises COVID-19 Death Risk that puts this need to stay vigilant into perspective. 

 

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Updated: June 16, 2020 13:03

 

Behavior is Communication: A Training for Families and Caregivers

Headshot of facilitator Krista LewisOn Thursday, June 25 at 2:00 PM Vision For Equality will be hosting Behavior is Communication: A Training for Families and Caregivers, an online training course that focuses on the intersection of behavior and communication. ODP's Deaf and Nontraditional Communication Professional Krista Lewis will lead the training for families and caregivers.

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Updated: June 16, 2020 10:15

 

Personal Insights to Keep Motivated

A woman with her back facing the camera and arms up in a victory poseAfter yesterday’s article on motivation, today we wanted to share a short video by Dr. Wenn Lawson on his own experience as an individual on the autism spectrum trying to keep motivated during the changes and isolation related to COVID-19.

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Updated: June 14, 2020 12:00

 

Motivation
A sign displaying the words "You Got This"
As more individuals prepare for returning to the community after a period of isolation, there may be concerns when it appears someone is stuck in a rut, reluctant to return to pre-COVID routines, or just not motivated to work on goals or activities in a way they may have before COVID-19. Uncovering the cause of this seeming lack of motivation is important and may be different for everyone considering there may be many factors at play.

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Updated: June 13, 2020 12:00

 

 

Secondary Traumatic Stress

A woman nervously biting her nailsSecondary traumatic stress (STS) is becoming viewed as an occupational hazard of providing direct services to traumatized populations. As Trauma-Informed principles continue to develop practice guidelines, it is important to pay attention to the role of STS when working with the individuals we support. 

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Updated: June 12, 2020 14:39

 

 

ODP Staff Announcement

A headshot of Tara Giberga, ODP's new Director of Quality ManagementThe Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) is pleased to announce that Tara Giberga will be the new Director for the Division of Quality Management. Tara brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position. 

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Updated: June 12, 2020 12:49

 

 

Communication During Risk

The CERC Rhythm flow chartToday we continue our series highlighting Crisis + Emergency Risk Communication’s (CERC) Psychology of a Crisis resource.  Please be sure to check out our other emails based off this resource, 4 Ways People Process Information During a Crisis and Mental States in a Crisis.

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Updated: June 11, 2020 12:42

 

 

Transitioning into Green Phase

A traffic light displaying greenAs some PA counties move to the Green Phase, it is important to remember we must still be vigilant in following CDC and DOH guidance to mitigate COVID-19 spread.  The attached graphic helps to show that though community restrictions may change during each phase, preventative measures taken by individuals continue. It is essential that we stay vigilant with hygiene and  environmental cleaning.

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Updated: June 10, 2020 15:42

 

 

CDC Releases Guidance for Individuals with Disabilities

The CDC logoToday we wanted to share newly created resources from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)  The CDC has released COVID-19 guidance, with a primary focus on family members and caregivers who support people with developmental disabilities. As a credible source of information, these CDC pages can be referred to or shared with others especially to confirm or refute other information being shared about COVID-19.

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Updated: June 9, 2020 14:56

 

Panel Discussion: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Autism Community

The Penn State LogoWe wanted to share an opportunity to be part of an important discussion regarding the potential effect of the pandemic on families and individuals living with autism. Hosted by The Penn State Autism and Developmental Disorders Collaborative, the seminar titled “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Autism Community" will be held on Wednesday, June 10th, from 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM.  All are welcome to register and can find more information in the attached resource

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Updated: June 8, 2020 15:00

Showing Community Appreciation

A piece of paper with "thank you" written on itFeeling like you want to contribute to show the community how thankful you are for all they are doing during this time? Maybe you feel that way but do not know what "you" have to offer? People everywhere are thinking outside of the box to show the community their appreciation. 

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Updated: June 7, 2020 17:00

Mental States in a Crisis

A woman sitting on a pier with her head downToday we continue our series highlighting Crisis + Emergency Risk Communication’s (CERC) Psychology of a Crisis resource.  Please be sure to check out our first article based on this resource,  4 Ways People Process Information During a Crisis.

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Updated: June 6, 2020 17:00

Taking Care of Yourself and Others During Times of Uncertainty

A spider graph on a chalkboard with a lightbulb in the middleAs the country responds to current events around the importance of equality for all, you may be thinking about how to support individuals in processing the information and reacting in a way that is meaningful to them. It is important to support their journey to understand what is going on and to have access to credible information in a way that supports their learning style. As of the writing of this email, there are few resources about the current events available that are tailored to the disability population, which means we all may need to use our best judgment to customize information to meet the needs of those we support.

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Updated: June 5, 2020 17:00

 

 

Preparing to go into the Community

A person holding a street mapLast week, we sent out an email about the Office of Developmental Program’s (ODP) Individual Transition Guide. Today we want to highlight a similar resource focused towards families and caregivers.  AID in PA has released a comprehensive Community Preparedness Resource Guide that is meant to assist families and caregivers in identifying strengths and needs across six key areas important to considering re-integration.

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Updated: June 4, 2020 17:00

 

4 Ways People Process Information During a Crisis

A person sitting against a wall with their head tucked between their kneesIn a crisis, affected people take in information, process information, and act on information differently than they would during non-crisis times. We wanted to share Crisis + Emergency Risk Communication’s (CERC) Psychology of a Crisis resource that provides explanation for how and why people process information during a crisis including guidance on how to effectively communicate during a crisis.  Over several emails, we will highlight different sections of this comprehensive resource. 

In today’s article, we will focus on the Four Ways People Process Information During a Crisis section. Below is a simplified version (with suggested support strategies) that can be found in the full resource linked above.

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Updated: June 3, 2020 16:55

 

Economic Impact Payment Guidance

A calculator and stacks of coinsAs we continue to receive questions related to participants and economic impact payments, we wanted to be sure you saw the recently updated Government Benefits and Representative Payee Services During the COVID-19 Emergency document.  

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Updated: June 2, 2020 10:36

 

Changing Internal Narratives

A thought bubble floating on a pink backgroundAs Pennsylvania phases into reopening meaning more interactions with others, people may observe that there are some people that are not following recommendations aimed at decreasing the spread of COVID-19. This article makes the case that this resistance may be due to those individuals having a strong external locus of control.

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Updated: May 30, 2020 17:00

Good News During COVID-19

A stack of news papersInspired by news articles like this and  Some Good News, we are hoping to hear some good news from all of you.  Do you have any good, nice, fun, funny, or otherwise heartwarming stories to share from the field?

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Updated: May 31, 2020 17:00

Apps for Mindfulness

A woman holding a phoneThere are so many useful apps out there and one of the positive outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic is the creation of additional, useful apps. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing some information about apps that relate to the topics of some of our recent emails.

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Updated: May 29, 2020 17:00

 

   

Autism Research Institute COVID-19 Resources

The Autism Research Institute logoToday we wanted to share another great resource page: Autism Research Institute’s (ARI)  Coping with the Covid-19 Pandemic. The page offers a variety of supports, including videos and downloadable resources primarily targeting child and family-based coping strategies. 

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Updated: May 27, 2020 17:00

 

Using Clear Face Masks to Facilitate Communication

A man wearing a clear face maskWhile it is essential that we continue to wear masks to protect each other from COVID-19, there are many individuals who may find it challenging to wear one. For people who rely on reading lips and facial expressions to communicate, attempting to engage with others may be problematic. The typical face mask hinders the ability to read lips and facial expressions.

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Updated: May 26, 2020 17:08

 

Updated CDC Guidelines for Mitigation

The CDC logoThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated existing guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The new recommendations, listed below, provide guidance for caretakers and healthcare workers. 

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Updated: May 26, 2020 16:14

 

AIDinPA Family Transition & Resource Guides

Aid in PA logo

Many things have changed as a result of COVID-19, and will continue to change in the coming weeks and months. Many things have changed as a result of COVID-19 and are likely to continue to change in the coming weeks and months. As Pennsylvania prepares to re-open, there will be new guidelines and tools to support individuals and families to stay safe and healthy.  

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Updated: May 26, 2020 15:17

Wearing Masks When Wearing a Mask is a Challenge

A woman putting on a face maskToday we wanted to share an interesting article about a mother and her son's experience in meeting state orders to wear masks when in public. The article, "Mom Explains That If Her Severely Autistic Son Can Get Used To Wearing A Mask, Anyone Can" discusses the importance of wearing masks and acknowledges the many challenges some may face. 

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Updated: May 25, 2020 12:00

More Resources for Dealing With Anxiety

The silhouette of a person sitting on a park bench aloneLast week, we sent an email using The Marginal Gains Handbook: Ideas to Survive and Thrive in the Age of Coronavirus to explore the theme of Allowing Time For Anxiety

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Updated: May 24, 2020 12:00

Honoring Memorial Day

A picture of flowers with the American flag in the backgroundMemorial Day is usually a day that is highlighted by large gatherings of family and friends as we welcome the days of the summer while honoring military personnel who had died while serving our country. But, this year most of us will have to stray from some of our traditions to accommodate COVID-19 precautions. 

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Updated: May 23, 2020 12:00

Another Comprehensive COVID-19 Resource

MHPSS COVID-19 Toolkit logoFor those of you continuing to search for COVID-19 specific resources, The Mental Health & Psychosocial Support Network (MHPSS) has a comprehensive tool kit available.  The amount of links on the document is honestly a little overwhelming, but the categorical headings might make it easier to find something that might be useful for you or an individual you support.  There are sections on Gender Issues, Disabilities, and Risk Communication and Community Engagement.

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Updated: May 22, 2020 11:47

More Strategies & Resources For Managing Anxiety

A grayscale image of a woman putting her head in her handsAs a follow up to our previous anxiety themed article, Allowing Time for Anxiety, we wanted to share another helpful article by Dr. Rob Archer about why we may be constantly anxious, at a time like this, and what we can do about it (e.g., pivoting towards what matters).

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Updated: May 22, 2020 09:34

Moving To "Yellow Phase"

A yellow deskThe Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) released Announcement 20-052 to provide updated, service-specific guidance to providers regarding Governor Wolf’s announcement of counties moving to the “yellow phase.” This means that some individuals may start to resume some community-based activities. However, for many individuals, it may not be safe or appropriate to return to community-based supports.  It is important that support teams use the Individual Transition Guide to assess, plan, and execute supports for individuals.

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Updated: May 20, 2020 19:56

 

The ADA Generation: New Perspectives on Employment and College Graduates with Disabilities

The Kessler Foundation LogoThe Kessler Foundation and the New Hampshire Institute on Disability invite you to join a live webinar on June 3, 2020. Entitled "The ADA Generation: New Perspectives on Employment and College Graduates with Disabilities", the session will feature experts from both organizations discussing findings from the Kessler Foundation's survey of recent college graduates and employment prospects for individuals with disabilities. 

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Updated: May 20, 2020 10:56

Work From Home Checklist

An empty to do listWe are big fans of a good old fashioned checklist, for good reason;  a checklist is a great way to stay organized and ensure thoroughness so that things don’t fall through the cracks as we navigate our days.

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Updated: May 19, 2020 16:44

Gratitude Literally Rewires Your Brain To Be Happier

A picture of a thank you noteToday we wanted to share an article that explains how Gratitude Literally Rewires Your Brain to be Happier.

The article is a great summary of what we know about the science behind the physical outcomes of practicing gratitude (e.g., attitude towards others and metabolisms) including links to sources and supplemental articles as well as some additional tips to becoming more grateful in your daily life. 

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Updated: May 18, 2020 16:40

Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation Loans

PATF logoThe pandemic has had a huge impact on the way many people are using and relying on technology. If you have new assistive technology needs, whether for telehealth, working or learning remotely, connecting with family and friends, or otherwise, the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation can help.

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Updated: May 18, 2020 13:33

Why is the Census so important?

 The US Census LogoThe United States Census 2020 is occurring NOW and it is important for everyone to take the time to participate.

The Census count helps determine:

  • How much money state and local governments get;
  • Where that money goes, like health care, Medicaid, housing vouchers, transportation, educational programs as well as other programs that provide needed services and other community needs; and
  • How many representatives each state gets in the House of Representatives. 

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Updated: May 18, 2020 13:05

Who are you Feeling Like Today?

A question mark drawn on a blackboardDuring the pandemic, we have been asking folks which character they relate to in a given moment in time. So, right now, which character do you relate to?

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Updated: May 17, 2020 12:00

Preparing for Transition

A to do list with empty linesOffice of Developmental Program's Announcement 20-056 was sent out earlier this week to announce the release of ODP's Individual Transition Guide (ITG). This guide was developed for use during weekly well-being check-ins with individuals, caregivers and/or staff, as appropriate, to gather information related to transition and preparation for the lifting of stay at home orders that had been put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Updated: May 16, 2020 12:00

Allowing Time for Anxiety

A person sitting on the floor with their head tucked between their knees. Let’s face it, most of us are feeling more anxious than three months ago and, frankly, may be struggling to overcome anxious thoughts. Acknowledging our anxiety and worry is a key to managing it.  In The Marginal Gains Handbook: Ideas to Survive and Thrive in the Age of Coronavirus, Dr. Rob Archer discusses some tips to handling anxiety that are based on Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT).

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Updated: May 15, 2020 15:00

 

What is Mindfulness?

A man with his eyes closed in meditationHave you been hearing the word "mindfulness" a lot lately? Us too, but it feels like a misunderstood concept.  Some see mindfulness as a new-age and serendipitous approach that lacks substance, while others see it as a solution to every problem.  In practice, mindfulness is a wonderful tool based on decades of research that doesn’t necessarily solve problems but removes barriers from thought processes that might inhibit problem-solving skills.   

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Updated: May 14, 2020 14:30

 

Being Present 

A man checking his watchWith all the changes in day-to-day responsibilities and competing priorities, many of us may be multitasking to get things done. But the reality is that multitasking may affect your ability to support people effectively. When supporting individuals, be it in person or remotely, it is crucial that we are present and giving them our undivided attention and support.   

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Updated: May 13, 2020 15:50

 

What is the Census?

The US Census logoThe United States Census 2020 is occurring NOW and it is important for everyone to take the time to participate.

The Census is a survey and counts everyone in the United States and asks questions about each person in each household in the country. One person from each home answers the questions. The Census happens once every ten years.

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Updated: May 13, 2020 12:40

 

Effective Environmental Cleaning

A swiffer mopping a wooden floorDespite Pennsylvania moving to the yellow phase in many counties, it remains important that we stay vigilant with our environmental cleaning to decrease risk for exposure to COVID-19 as more people start to share private and public spaces once again.

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Updated: May 12, 2020 14:28

 

Work/Life Balance

A cup of coffee in the foreground as a man types on a smartphone in front of a computer in the backFor many of us, working from home has become the new normal.  It is important that we establish routines that prioritize a work/life balance to maintain our mental health and productivity. This means more than just following basic work from home rules like creating a designated workspace and creating a work schedule to keep boundaries.

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Updated: May 11, 2020 15:04

 

Being Creative

A paint brush dipping into paint on a paletFor those of you who may not have been inspired into action by last week's staying active article, perhaps something a little more creative may spark your interest. Art challenges are another great way to stay engaged, connected, and creative during COVID-19. 

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Updated: May 10, 2020 12:00

 

Importance of the 2020 Census

The 2020 Census LogoThe 2020 Census is underway. Why is this important for people with disabilities? The government needs an accurate count of who is living in communities in an effort to know how much money the community needs like services and programs for people with disabilities.

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Updated: May 8, 2020 20:24

 

New CDC Guidance on Quarantine, Isolation, and Critical Infrastructure

The CDC LogoThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidance regarding the difference between quarantine & isolation, and critical infrastructure for public health safety and community well-being.

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Updated: May 8, 2020 14:30

 

#ASDNext

#ASDNext logo

Today we want to highlight a wonderful resource for teens and young adults on the Autism Spectrum, #ASDNext.

#ASDNext is an initiative of the Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training (ASERT) Collaborative.  #ASDNext was conceived to help fill the growing need for resources and support to help teens and young adults with autism transition to “adult” life after school. 

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Updated: May 8, 2020 12:12

PA Department of Health Interim Guidance on Discontinuing Non-Healthcare Isolation for Persons with COVID-19

The PA Department of Health LogoThe Pennsylvania Department of Health has issued interim guidance on discontinuing non-healthcare isolation for persons with COVID-19. The new guidelines, issued by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, focus on test-based and time-based strategies for persons who have contracted and recovered from COVID-19 and strongly rely on a case-by-case assessment by region and health/care facility.

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Updated: May 7, 2020 17:08

Doing What Matters in Times of Stress 

A woman clutching her head looking over a crowded deskToday we wanted to share a newly released resource from the World Health Organization (WHO). Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: An Illustrated Guide. It is a stress management guide for coping with adversity by equipping people with practical skills to help cope with stress.

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Updated: May 7, 2020 14:13

 

A Message to Nurses from Secretary Teresa Miller

Pennsylvania DHS logoPennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller would like to thank all nurses for their dedication during the COVID-19 outbreak. Watch Sec. Miller's personal address below.

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Updated: May 6, 2020 13:45

 

A Message to DSPs from Governor Tom Wolf

The seal of the Commonwealth of PennsylvaniaPennsylvania Governor, Tom Wolf, would like to thank all direct support professionals for their dedication during the COVID-19 outbreak. Watch Gov. Wolf's personal address by following the link below.

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Updated: May 6, 2020 13:45

 

Nurses Day

A nurse smiling holding a paper heartODP joins the nation in applauding the contribution of nurses. Today and every day, nurses serve on the frontlines of care, promoting health, wellness, and recovery. Through dedicated efforts to care for the vulnerable,  the ill, and those in need, nurses inspire us all with wisdom, strength, endurance, and compassion.  In this time of unprecedented challenge to the health of citizens across Pennsylvania and the country, nurses lead by example with heroic efforts in battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Updated: May 6, 2020 13:41

 

PPE Resources

A face maskWith an international shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), it has been difficult for many providers to acquire these resources during this crisis. The Department of Community and Economic development has set up the Pennsylvania COVID-19 PPE & Supplies Business-2-Business (B2B) Interchange Directory as a resource that may help providers locate these essential items.

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Updated: May 6, 2020 13:38

 

Back Into the Community: Who to listen to and what to trust

A traffic light displaying a red lightWith consideration for re-integrating into the community, it can be hard to figure out what information is correct.  It is important to make sure that the people you support know where to find the most accurate, up to date information. 

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Updated: May 6, 2020 12:45

 

Mental Health Supports

Having support during a mental health episode can be life-saving. So today we just wanted to share a simple and printable, visual resource for many mental health support options that are available during the COVID-19 crisis. Keep as a resource for yourself or share with individuals you support. Do not suffer alone.

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Updated: May 4, 2020 17:00

 

Having Hope

A plant growing between the cracks of pavementHope is the desire to be happy, it is the concept that things will change and that pain or misfortune will pass. Some of us might find it hard to be hopeful right now.  With so much potential for stress and anxiety related to the uncertainty of the future, finding hope may be difficult.  But, hope matters and can positively affect life outcomes.  Some of those outcomes are laid out in this article, 5 Ways Hope Impacts Health & Happiness

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Updated: May 2, 2020 12:00

 

Staying Active

A picture of hand weightsCOVID 19 has made it harder for many of us to keep physically active although it is so important at this time both for mental and physical well-being.  Some of us may not have been very active before social/physical distancing started. For others, the change in routine, limited access to previous methods of exercise, or motivation issues due to isolation may have impacted our activity levels

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Updated: May 1, 2020 12:00

 

AT and AAC Resources

A google home mini module sitting on a boxCommunication is an essential part of all of our lives. Supporting people to communicate and ensure that their communication is understood, may warrant an exploration of Assistive Technology (AT) and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).  TechOwl, a part of the Institute on Disabilities (IOD) at Temple University, has developed a variety of resources specific to everything assistive technology-related on their website

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Updated: April 30, 2020 12:45

 

Using Assistive Technology Service to Access Remote Supports

A smart phone and a tablet sitting on a tableProviding services remotely continues to be a critical approach to support during this time. It is important that we help individuals access remote services even when they do not have the equipment they need to receive support. We hope to have additional information available to support you in the coming weeks, but for now, here are some resources to help you navigate providing access to remote services. 

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Updated: April 30, 2020 12:45

Being Prepared

A stethoscope resting on a notebookAs much as we are all trying our very best to mitigate risk and to maintain social/physical distancing, it is important that we have a plan for the worst-case scenario. For some of us, this may mean that the individual we support may require hospitalization. There are so many variables to consider in this situation.

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Updated: April 29, 2020 15:58

Got Research?

A picture of a person reviewing chartsIf you needed more endorsement for the importance of tending to people's mental health during this time, you should check out SAGE Open's latest collection of highlighted articles. SAGE Open is a peer-reviewed, "Gold" open access journal that publishes original research and review articles spanning the social and behavioral sciences and the humanities.

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Updated: April 29, 2020 11:11

The Best Source for COVID-19 News is the Experts

 CDC LogoThe volume of news and information related to the COVID-19 Pandemic is overwhelming and not every source offers valuable news or insight. Trusted health sources provide the most accurate information, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and PA's Department of Health. 

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Updated: April 28, 2020 17:33

Humor as a Tool During COVID-19

A woman holding a sticky note with a cartoon smile on it in front of her mouthWhile many of the important messages regarding the COVID-19 crisis are delivered in a necessarily serious tone, sometimes you just need a little humor to get the point across to some of the people you support (and to maintain some of your sanity). That is precisely why we chose to focus on this article about using memes to educate, engage, and add some much-needed levity to the COVID-19 crisis. 

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Updated: April 27, 2020 15:07

What are you doing for fun?

A game piece on a Monopoly game boardIt is sobering to think about how things have changed over the past six weeks, and how much we may have taken for granted, in the past.  For a lot of us and a lot of the people we support, access to the places, activities, and people who bring us joy have been limited or eliminated for the time being. That might be a tough pill to swallow, but it does not mean we can’t adapt and figure out some new ways to have a little fun!

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Updated: April 27, 2020 14:44


Self-Care for DSPs

A picture of a sign that says 'Self-care isn't selfish'As this pandemic continues, there are some sentiments that bear repeating like taking time for self-care. We have shared emails on this topic: Self-Care While Helping Others and How are you doing?, but today we wanted to focus specifically on Self-Care for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). 

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Updated: April 24, 2020 13:39

A Message to DSPs from Secretary Teresa Miller

Pennsylvania DHS logoPennsylvania Secretary of Human Services, Teresa Miller, would like to thank all direct support professionals for their dedication during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

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Updated: April 24, 2020 13:03

TQEP Together at Home

Icon of a phoneLooking for some at-home activities? The Transition Quality Empowerment Project will be hosting zoom hangout sessions focused on connecting young people with disabilities. TQEP is a program of Transition Discoveries.

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Updated: April 23, 2020 16:22

The Role of DSPs during COVID-19

the NADSP logoDuring the COVID19 pandemic, the role of the Direct Support Professional (DSP) remains the same: to support individuals to maintain their health and safety while building skills that are meaningful to the individual. To that end, DSPs must adapt their practices in order to ensure the health and safety of both the participant and themselves.

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Updated: April 23, 2020 15:00

Using Social Stories

Icon reading "Social Stories, Carol Gray"Social Stories can be a valuable tool to help explain important information and teach skills related to COVID-19 to individuals you support. Social Stories were created by Carol Gray in the early 1990s. They are short descriptions of a particular situation, event, or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why.

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Updated: April 23, 2020 13:32

Support and Resources for Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault Available

PA DHS LogoDepartment of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today joined representatives from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) to remind Pennsylvanians that resources and assistance are available to victims and survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence during COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

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Updated: April 22, 2020 13:52

Ideas for Skill Building Today

Picture of a person writing in a journalNow that people are starting to grow somewhat accustomed to the shelter-in-place orders and social isolation, there might be some stagnation that is setting in as you try to work with the individual’s you support. 

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Updated: April 21, 2020 18:04


Hiring DSPs

NADSP logoWith so many people displaced from their careers and a continuing Direct Support Professional (DSP) shortage, there may new opportunities to recruit to fill vital positions in your agency. 

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Updated: April 20, 2020 17:23

Experiencing Media Overload?

A woman scrolling through a smart phoneIt is easy to become overwhelmed with all of the information that is flooding through news and social media outlets.  If you or someone you support is struggling to disconnect from the constant media cycle, here are some tips to help take a step back.

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Updated: April 19, 2020 12:00


Communicating Important Information

Two speech bubbles on a pink backgroundSome supporters are struggling to communicate the necessary information to the individuals they support right now who may have communication or cognitive differences.  The challenge is to identify how the individual best receives information, as well as, how they communicate an understanding of that information. 

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Updated: April 18, 2020 12:00

Priority Skills Right Now

A woman in a wheelchair prepares morning coffee

As we struggle to maintain the balance between health and safety and maintaining skills, supporters and individuals may be struggling to determine priorities.

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Updated: April 17, 2020 15:44

Conducting Remote Functional Behavioral Assessments

A lightbulb inside a chalk outline of a thinking bubbleAfter releasing the resources and webinar on Presenting and Responding to Behavioral Crisis, we received a few questions about conducting Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBA) during the COVID-19 pandemic.  In response, we wanted to offer some tips to Behavioral Specialists about developing or updating FBAs during this time. 

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Updated: April 17, 2020 11:05

Beware of Scams

A small traffic cone reading 'Caution' on a computer keyboardWe all have been spending more time on our phones and computers these days. And, more and more stories are coming to light about scammers trying to capitalize on people's vulnerabilities during this pandemic. The individuals you support may be more vulnerable to being taken advantage of during this time and may require some support and reminders about how to avoid scams.

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Updated: April 15, 2020 11:56

The Importance of Sleep Hygiene

A picture of someone curled up in a bedAre you or someone you support struggling with getting a good night’s sleep? Whether this is a new issue arising during COVID-19 or an ongoing issue, it is more important than ever to focus on proper sleep hygiene.

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Updated: April 14, 2020 14:55

Looking To Fill The Time? Try These Virtual Tours

A picture of the great pyramids of gizaAs we enter our fifth week following stay-at-home orders, some of us are getting a little stir crazy and looking for ways to fill the day.  Thankfully, technology can give us a brief reprieve from the monotony of our homes. For those of you craving an escape or looking for something to recommend to fill others' free time, check out the virtual tour resource

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Updated: April 13, 2020 15:58

Emergency Preparedness Checklist

" "Many of us were taken by surprise at the sudden emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The short transition to social isolation and closed businesses caught many of us off guard and served as a reminder to assess our preparedness.

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Updated: April 12, 2020 11:00

Maybe it's time for Takeout

A picture of multiple takeout containersAs COVID-19 has affected our eating habits and our typical routines (e.g., eating out), some of us are starting to wish we signed up for a cooking class or two before this all started, others are just missing their favorite foods.  For some of us, the familiar taste of a meal from a favorite restaurant may be a simple way to connect to the normalcy of life before this all started. 

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Updated: April 10, 2020 17:20

Preventing and Responding to Behavioral Crises

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During this time of uncertainty that can be challenging for individuals and supporters, we are providing guidance to Behavioral Specialists, Supports Coordination Organizations (SCOs), and other providers about diverting and responding to potential crisis situations.

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Updated: April 10, 2020 12:53

United Way Resource Support

United Way of Pennsylvania LogoMany Pennsylvanians are struggling with a loss of income during the COVID-19 outbreak. It can be difficult to find the appropriate resources and to know what information is applicable and accurate. Thankfully, United Way of Pennsylvania and PA 211 are making it easier for Pennsylvanians to connect to resources to help households during this confusing time.

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Updated: April 10, 2020 10:05

Center for Creative Works finds Success in Remote Supports

CCW Artist Dave Shmuckler shows off his home workstation to CCW instructor Cliff WardOver the past month, the Center for Creative Works (CCW), a program of Resources for Human Development, has successfully implemented remote support technology with glowing results.

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Updated: April 9, 2020 15:04

How are you doing?

Are you remembering to take care of yourself so you can continue to support others? Take a look at this graphic and remember to check off as many of these boxes as you can every day.

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Updated: April 9, 2020 12:42

AID in PA Resources

Logo for Aid in PAIf there is one positive thing in response to the COVID-19 crisis, it is the incredible creation of resources and support networks to get people the information they need in a timely manner.  Today we wanted to highlight just one of these resource collections.

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Updated: April 7, 2020 12:53

Practice Gratitude

Thank You

These days, it is hard to think on the bright side and easy for us to get lost in the confusion of what has become our new realities. Gratitude is a concept that can help us all feel grounded and focused on all for which we are thankful! So, for today, we wanted to provide a simple resource that we find useful for keeping us focused on what we are grateful for each day. 

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Updated: April 5, 2020 18:09

Remote Support Series: Using Interests, Preferences, and Choice to Engage

support

Adjusting to new ways of supports during this time may be difficult for all of us.  When engaging in remote supports, consider how you might use that person’s interests, preference, and choice to promote engagement. 

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Updated: April 4, 2020 20:20

Remote Support Series: Positive Self-Management Strategies

organization book

Particularly for participants living independently, there may be a need for assistance in developing and maintaining self-management skills to create consistency and stability during times when they may have previously been receiving paid support or out in their communities. 

The following are some tips to developing self-management skills that can hopefully lead to increased regularity in daily routines (adapted from the Psychiatric Times) and maintenance of positive mental health.
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Updated: April 4, 2020 17:55

ODP Encourages Individuals, Families and Supporters to Utilize Helpline for Support During COVID-19

Logo for the DHS HelplineThe Statewide Support & Referral Helpline is staffed by skilled and compassionate staff that are  available 24/7 to respond to those struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to the COVID-19 emergency. Staff at the Helpline refer callers to community-based resources that can further help to meet individual needs.

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Updated: April 3, 2020 13:21

Remote Supports Privacy and HIPAA Considerations

A computer screen displaying the word 'security'Under normal circumstances, ODP programs require HIPAA compliant methods when providing remote supports. In response to the COVID-19 national emergency, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has issued guidance describing modifications to the enforcement of these requirements.

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Updated: April 2, 2020 16:02

Remote Employment Supports

A woman writing in a notebook at a deskAs a follow-up from last week’s article What To Know About Work Right Now, here are some additional resources about remote supports related to employment.

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Updated: April 2, 2020 14:24

The Importance of Relationships

A smiling woman holding a phoneIt is so important for all of us to have access to meaningful relationships in our lives during this period of isolation.  The same is true for the people we support. 

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Updated: April 1, 2020 16:10

Self-Care While Helping Others

A silhouette of a woman runningIt’s important to make sure we are taking care of ourselves as we take care of others. In order to be effective in our roles, we need to do everything we can to avoid compassion fatigue and burnout during times like these.

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Updated: April 1, 2020 12:35

Introducing & Maintaining Remote Supports

A person using a tabletSome individuals we support may experience difficulties while adjusting to remote supports. Being prepared and mindful about how you will engage during remote supports is important. 

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Updated: March 31, 2020 14:00

Sharing COVID-19 Information With Participants: Knowledge is Power

A picture of an open bookThe current situation is creating anxiety and fear for many of us; however, most resources available are not written through an autism nor intellectual disability specific lens. The first step to combating anxiety is to deliver information to an individual that is crafted in a way that is easy for them to process.

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Updated: March 31, 2020 12:06

What Have You Been Doing?

" "It is important to take the time to check in with caregivers who are experiencing changes to theirs and their loved one's daily lives. For those of us who support individuals where a caregiver is actively involved, you may be the one person asking them: How are you? How can we be helpful? What do we need to know about the changes that have occurred and how they are affecting yours and your loved ones' life?

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Updated: March 30, 2020 11:55

What to Know About Work Right Now

" "Many individuals we support are not working or volunteering during this time. Some may have had difficulty accessing the supports they rely on to maintain employment skills.

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Updated: March 30, 2020 11:55

Supporting Caregivers

An image of the lifecourse wheelIt is important to take the time to check in with caregivers who are experiencing changes to theirs and their loved one's daily lives. For those of us who support individuals where a caregiver is actively involved, you may be the one person asking them: How are you? How can we be helpful? What do we need to know about the changes that have occurred and how they are affecting yours and your loved ones' life?

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Updated: March 27, 2020 15:45

Promoting Flexibility

A hand holding a digital pen about to write their weekly schedule on an iPad

COVID-19 requires us all to be flexible and tolerant of change as we aim to flatten the curve. For many individuals, the sudden and forced change of routines and activities can be challenging. Here are some tips to help promote flexibility during this time.

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Updated: March 27, 2020 10:56

National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals Webinar

Headshot of Dr. Rick RaderDirect Support Professionals are invited join NADSP (National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals) Medical Advisor Dr. Rick Rader for a brief update on supporting individuals through the COVID-19 pandemic. Specific information dedicated to direct support professionals will be reviewed. 

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Updated: March 26, 2020 14:14

Modifying Goals and Routines

A daily planner sitting on a desk with a pair of black glasses on top

Some individuals will struggle with the sudden changes in daily activities associated with COVID-19.  For these individuals, it is important to help modify routines and goals to minimize the impact of these changes. 

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Updated: March 26, 2020 12:14

Don't Get Lax: Infectious Disease Reminders

A person washing their hands with soap

As most of us hunker down at home and may be feeling well, many of us will become less vigilant with the preventative strategies and recommendations for infection control.

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Updated: March 25, 2020 13:19

COVID-19 Explanation: Plain Language Video and Captioned

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Oregon's Office of Developmental Disabilities Services recently released a plain language and captioned video providing information to keep you and your loved ones protected from getting ill.

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Updated: March 19, 2020 13:19

Resources for Social Distancing

A picture of a woman sitting alone with a laptopThe CDC currently recommends social distancing to taper the current pandemic. Here are some resources on social distancing for individuals and professionals. If you need additional resources in understanding this concept, one of the following recommendations may help.

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Updated: March 19, 2020 12:15

Department of Health Information on Coronavirus - Updated*

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The Pennsylvania Department of Health has created a webpage with information and many resources about coronavirus.

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Updated: March 16, 2020 18:10

Recognizing Signs: Mental Health First Aid Classes Available

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Much like CPR training helps a non-medical professional assist someone following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) helps an individual who doesn’t have clinical training assist someone who is developing a mental health problem or is experiencing a mental health crisis.
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Posted: February 25, 2020 15:20

A LifeCourse Journey: Crossing the Commonwealth with SAU1’s Renee Benise

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For the past two years, Renee has traveled through the commonwealth, teaching the principles of LifeCourse to self-advocates and family members. 
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Posted: February 24, 2020 14:33

#DisabilityCounts2020

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#DisabilityCounts2020 is an online campaign to spread awareness as to the importance of being counted in the 2020 United States Census. 
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Posted: February 20, 2020 15:07

Modified Medication Administration Course Update

Pills48% of LifeSharers have completed the Modified Medication Administration Course since its launch, January 1, 2020.  Read Full Article

Updated: February 20, 2020 11:38

Who Supports the Caregiver? Children with Medical Complexities and the Role of the Family Facilitator

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To ensure families receive adequate support for their loved ones throughout their lifespan, family facilitators are making a critical impact. 
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Posted: February 19, 2020 10:07

Proposed Legislation Would Allow Payment for DSPs During Hospital Stay

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The Ensuring Access to Direct Support Professionals Act would authorize states to reimburse DSPs for time spent supporting people who are hospitalized for short-term stays. 
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Posted: February 14, 2020 12:35

Experiences in Full Inclusion at Millersville University

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Pennsylvania's Millersville University provides a robust model of the future of a four-year inclusive secondary education. The school's Integrated Studies Program provides all students, including those with disabilities, the same rights and responsibilities as all degree-seeking students.
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Posted: February 14, 2020 09:12

Benefits Counseling Works!

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Benefits counseling services are an important part of career planning for individuals with disabilities and their families. These services help you to take advantage of work incentives as you gain or maintain employment.

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Posted: February 10, 2020 13:19

ODP Supports Transition

Tranisition Discoveries

Leaving secondary education and getting a first job are major markers of adulthood for everyone including youth with disabilities.   Read Full Article

Posted: February 07, 2020 10:41

Employment First Community of Practice Monthly Webinar

Employment 1st Logo

Travis Akins, Founder and CEO, will showcase the highly innovative Growth Through Opportunity (GTO) Cadets training program and the unique methodology behind achieving high employment rates for adult individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Read full article

Posted: February 3, 2020 13:22

HCQU Looks to Virtual Reality (VR) to Improve Training

Demonstrating Virtual Reality

Pennsylvania's Health Care Quality Units (HCQUs) are constantly evaluating the status quo in caregiving. One HCQU, Milestone, is looking to advancements in technology to improve training methods.   Read Full Article

Posted: January 24, 2020 11:41

2020 Disability and Mental Health Summit to be held in Pittsburgh

Disability & Mental Health Summit Graphic

The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) Medical Director and Clinical Director are slated to present at the annual Disability and Mental Health Summit, hosted by Representative Dan Miller. Held March 3rd at the David L Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, the event celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Over forty planned sessions focus on both disabilities and mental health. The Summit expects over 150 exhibitors and a Resource Fair to run from 8 AM to 7 PM.   Read Full Article

Posted: January 23, 2020 10:20

Communication Specialist Service Infographic Answers Questions

Communications InfographicTo help individuals and families understand what is available in the Service Definition, ODP's Special Population Unit collaborated with ASERT to create an infographic, which provides information on frequently asked questions.  Read Full Article

Updated: January 10, 2020 09:52

2020 Everyday Lives Conference Logo

Join hundreds of individuals, families, and professionals January 7, 8, and 9 at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA. Read Full Article

Updated: January 03, 2020 09:07

The Lifesharing Experience:  Shanisha and Ruth

Shanisha and Ruth

Shanisha is a 27-year-old Lifesharer who resides with Ruth Hursh. Read Full Article

Posted: January 06, 2020 14:45

Health Risk Screening and the Risks of Multiple Medications

polypharmacy

Polypharmacy, or the use of multiple medications by an individual for one or more health conditions, can lead to increased risk for side effects, medication interactions, and other health risks, including possible co-morbidities or death. Read Full Article

Updated: December 24, 2019 08:54

Helpful Tips to Ease Holiday Anxiety

holiday image of family

The Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training Collaborative (ASERT) offers tips to help ease the anxiety for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, and for their families. Read Full Article

Posted: December 24, 2019 08:51

Sports Plays Big Role in His Community Participation

ricky bowling and community participation services

Ricky is an ardent sports fan and enjoys watching as well as participating in sporting events. A graduate of Central Dauphin East, he supports his alma mater by attending Panthers’ sports. Read Full Article

Posted: December 18, 2019 13:41