MyODP News Online

Welcome to MyODP News Online

These articles previously ran on MyODP News Online.

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). 

Read Full Article

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. 

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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. 

Read Full Article

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. 

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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. 

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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. 

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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. 

Read Full Article

Updated: April 10, 2020 17:20

Preventing and Responding to Behavioral Crises

" "

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.

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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. 

Read Full Article

Updated: April 5, 2020 18:09

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


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. 

Read Full Article

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.
Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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. 

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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. 

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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?

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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?

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

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. 

Read Full Article

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. 

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

Updated: March 25, 2020 13:19

COVID-19 Explanation: Plain Language Video and Captioned

" "

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.

Read Full Article

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.

Read Full Article

Updated: March 19, 2020 12:15

Department of Health Information on Coronavirus - Updated*

" "

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

Read Full Article

Updated: March 16, 2020 18:10

Recognizing Signs: Mental Health First Aid Classes Available

" "

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.
Read Full Article

Posted: February 25, 2020 15:20

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

" "

For the past two years, Renee has traveled through the commonwealth, teaching the principles of LifeCourse to self-advocates and family members. 
Read Full Article

Posted: February 24, 2020 14:33


" "

#DisabilityCounts2020 is an online campaign to spread awareness as to the importance of being counted in the 2020 United States Census. 
Read Full Article

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

" "

To ensure families receive adequate support for their loved ones throughout their lifespan, family facilitators are making a critical impact. 
Read Full Article

Posted: February 19, 2020 10:07

Proposed Legislation Would Allow Payment for DSPs During Hospital Stay

" "

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. 
Read Full Article

Posted: February 14, 2020 12:35

Experiences in Full Inclusion at Millersville University

" "

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.
Read Full Article

Posted: February 14, 2020 09:12

Benefits Counseling Works!

" "

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.

Read Full Article

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, 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