Moving Towards Independence

When I think back over my childhood, its ups and even its downs, I am struck by how much I took for granted. I took for granted that I had people who loved me and wanted me to succeed. I took for granted that I would one day have the ability and wherewithal to go out into the world as an independent adult and blaze my own trail. However, these things that you and I so often see as inevitable and ours to claim are not always so easy to achieve for our students. In fact, what you and I take for granted on a daily basis can often represent a seemingly out of reach goal for individuals with emotional and developmental disabilities.

Promoting Family Engagement

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.

The Benefits of Collaboration in the Classroom

Teachers often experience a sense of isolation. Most often a routine is developed in which the teacher arrives at school, walks into a classroom, shuts the door, and for many and varied reasons does not emerge again until it is time to go home. In this scenario the only places for teacher interaction is in the hallway or parking lot as they come and go. There are many teachers who like it or even prefer it this way, but this limited interaction does not encourage teacher professional growth. To be a truly effective teacher one must learn from others in the profession. One proven way to accomplish this is through collaboration.

Boiling Down to Job Prep

As my own children have entered middle school and late elementary school, I find myself analyzing the nature of their schoolwork in terms of job preparation. It typically begins with an innocuous question like ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ Now, I realize my 11 year old son will likely change this answer a hundred times before entering the work force, but as an inquisitive father, I ask. The brief conversation then leads us along the path of ‘what classes do you like?’ and ‘what are your interests?’ We chat about what school assignments have been exciting, which were painful, and which ones would fit in careers of their interest. It’s usually a quick conversation that ends in a shrug or two, and I’m left contemplating much more than originally planned.

6 Tips to Manage Holiday Stress

Although many of us look forward to spending time with family and friends, the holiday season can certainly be a stressful time as well. As routines and structures and everything predictable are interrupted, it is important to create some specific intentions for the season. Sometimes a simple visual reminder like a favorite quote may help you relax, enjoy the moment and put things in pe

Community Connection

What is community connection and why does it matter? The 2016 Orientation Manual for Direct Support Professionals and Supervisors: Supporting People in their Homes and Communities defines community connection as, “may include a person in social gatherings outside of the primary connection, others recognizing and appreciating their contributions, and forming friendships that extend beyond the reason they are gathered. When a person is not there they are missed and people ask about them.”

Sensory Processing- What it is and What to Do About It

At Grafton we often hear about “sensory stuff”, or students who have “sensory issues”. But what does that really mean? Each one of us uses input we receive from our senses in order to make sense of and navigate the world around us. This simply means that we use our vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, as well as our “invisible” senses that tell us where our body is in space, in order to interact with our world by walking, talking, listening, eating, and reading this article on your computer screen. These systems sometimes fall out of sync though, either due to environmental conditions, genetics, or challenges, such as ADHD or autism. Trouble with these systems can cause difficulty with how we relate and perceive the world around us and how we interact with it.

Strategies to Motivate Students in the Classroom

Children, those with and without special needs, often suffer from a lack of motivation when it comes to learning. This lack of motivation can impact the students in the classroom in many ways. Developing strategies to address the student’s lack of motivation is vital to school success. Motivation comes in two forms: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsically motivated students are naturally motivated to do their work. Extrinsically motivated students are motivated by external rewards.

Teacher Impact

I can still remember my mom staying up late to help my little brother with last minute homework assignments. I remember the anxiety and stress that surrounded my brother’s time in school and how hard my parents worked to help him. I remember my brother’s anger and resentment at my mom for pushing him so hard, even though he knew he needed her help. I remember my parents telling me, “Well, at least we didn’t have to worry about you doing well in school”.

Empowering Adults with Disabilities

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” Henry Ford

I have always had a heart for adults with disabilities. Having a brother on the spectrum and seeing his (and our family’s) struggles at various stages of life has given me a front row seat to the ever-changing issues faced by this population. Then after becoming a behavior analyst, I gained helpful knowledge and techniques that lead to empowerment through learning. I like to say that individuals like my brother have been using the toolkit that has worked their whole lives; it is our job to give them a better toolkit! Translation: problem behavior such as self-injury, elopement, PICA, property destruction, aggression and disruptive behavior serve a purpose to them due to a history of reinforcement. For example, if disruptive behavior such as slapping a table and yelling has always resulted in attention, we must teach that individual how to seek out attention appropriately before they have to act out for it. When that individual learns appropriate replacement behaviors, more doors open for them: increased community integration, independence in self-care, increased communication skills and truly getting their wants and needs met. This is empowerment.