*This article was originally published on the HuffingtonPost How do you define success? For individuals with intellectual disabilities, establishing goals and measuring success is complex. It requires a thoughtful balance;… Read More
It makes sense, given the range in popular opinion about children and media (music, video games, social media, television and movies), that there would be differences in view about these in the psychiatric residential treatment (PRT) setting. Grafton’s PRT in Berryville tends to take a fairly restrictive approach that is directed by therapeutic professionals. For example, clients are not allowed to access social media, have limited use of sports-centered and nonviolent video games, and watch minimal television and movies that are monitored for sexual, profane and violent content. But do these restrictions make sense given the clients will return to a community and environment where these medium will be widely accessible?
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” Amelia Earhart
Change can be scary. All of us have experienced this in varying degrees – whether we initiate a change or life makes that decision for us. Unchartered territory and the “what if’s” seem to consume our fears and before long, we are living in a parallel universe of doubt and anxiety rather than true reality.
I have a family member diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and to say that his life has been challenging would be an understatement. Unfortunately, he was not diagnosed until the age of 16 and prior to his diagnosis, he was lumped under the large umbrella of “Learning Disabled”. It was a never-ending pursuit of the best services for him and his parents endured unspeakable frustration and grief. However, although the small window of early diagnosis was missed with him, he has made significant gains over the course of his life with the right services.
“I am not different. “ My sixteen-year-old son makes this assertion countless time a day. Well, to be honest, I’m not sure if it’s a statement or a question. And I’m not entirely sure how he would define the word different. Despite my son’s autism diagnosis, speech and language impairment and IQ test scores, he is very intelligent. He is highly aware and very sensitive emotionally. But his language skills are very much delayed. For him, having a conversation is tantamount to climbing a mountain. It takes effort and it is exhausting. He saves this energy for topics he finds highly motivating. The concept of being “Different” seems to top that list.
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world” Mahatma Gandhi
Beginning in July of 2016, Grafton’s Winchester Adult Services department started utilizing a DBHDS Community Engagement grant program to enhance the services we provide to our clients through increased community integration. This state funding has provided operational support with expenses such as transportation, activities and materials. But a large portion of the grant has paid for the services of a Community Engagement Program Manager and Board Certified Behavior Analyst; and this combination has been the secret to our ongoing success!
In recent years, we have begun to speak openly about the incidence and treatment of breast cancer, AIDS, autism yet remain reticent to talk with candor about mental illness. NAMI provides some staggering statistics about the prevalence and impact of mental illness.
The residential treatment setting presents unique challenges to family engagement. The Building Bridges Initiative proposes a framework for successfully working with families. Using structural family therapy, residential treatment teams can facilitate lasting change.
According to Linda Hogdgon (also known as the “Queen of Visuals”), 56% of communication is visual (gestures, body language, pictures), 37% vocal (tone, rate, intensity) and only 7% is verbal (actual words). Visual schedules then become an important tool to support communication in individuals with autism.