How Different Therapy Dog Personalities Can Affect Client Behavior

According to the ADA National Network, a service animal is “…any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” These include tasks such as guiding people who are blind, protecting a person who is having a seizure, reassuring a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during an anxiety attack or performing other duties. The task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ADA and service animals

What I’ve learned from personal experience is that these dogs can have a profound effect on client self-awareness and behavior.

Smart Home Technology–A Tool to Improve Quality of Services

According to the New York Times, a wide array of large technology companies, including Google (Nest) and Apple, as well as smaller firms like Canary and Smart Things, are working hard to make the “smart home” a commonplace reality in the near future.

A “smart home” is an all-inclusive term for the highly advanced group of systems (including technology and equipment) that enable functions such as automated security, entertainment, and energy. Smart home technology has been shown to increase functional autonomy in group-home residents, which directly leads to an increase in quality of life.

Give Them Wings to Fly: Building Parents Capacity to Support their Child’s Learning

In an earlier blog, A Different Dream, I talked about how Early Interventionists (EIs) can help families create different dreams for their child’s future and for how he or she will be fully able to participate in typical family activities. So having the dream is great! But what happens next? Do the Early Interventionists come in with their magic wands and make the dream come true? Well, it’s not that easy, but the process can be magical.

Promoting Positive Mental Health—What Does it Take?

In recent years, we have begun to speak openly about the incidence and treatment of breast cancer, AIDS, and autism. Yet we remain reticent to talk openly about mental illness. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that one in four adults—approximately 57.7 million Americans—experience a mental health disorder in any given year.

Housing Options: Choice vs. Regulations

To meet the requirement of Section III.D.3 of its Settlement Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that the state move residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities out of the current training centers and into community based settings, the Commonwealth of Virginia plans to close four of the state operated training centers and add 4,170 new ID Waiver slots. The Southeastern Virginia Training Center will remain open and provide 75 residential beds.

Action for Autism

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that Autism Spectrum Disorder affects one out of every 68 births in the U.S. In the past two decades alone, the incidence of autism has increased by 600 percent. So how do we cope with the growing challenge? And how will we pay for it?

Evidence-based Practice or Practice-based Evidence?

In the mental health community, we have all come to live under the hegemony of “empirically based care,” led by payors, auditors, governmental authorities (read SAMSHA), our own licensing boards, and administrators—like myself—desperate to demonstrate that their psychotherapeutic services are cost effective.

But are they? I’m not convinced that we are doing our profession or our clients a great service by following this policy, and I’m unsure where it ultimately leads us.

Developing a Tool for Meaningful Employment Opportunities

Individuals with disabilities represent one of the largest minority groups seeking employment in today’s marketplace. One crucial step to their success lies in assessing their readiness for supported or competitive employment, but there is currently no broadly available tool to help public educators make this kind of evaluation.

Six Principles of Trauma Informed Care

Exploring how we support others who have had traumatic experiences is critical in promoting resiliency and recovery. The simple shift from asking “What is wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”can have significant benefits in promoting a trauma-informed treatment milieu.

The following six principles of Grafton’s trauma-informed care model were presented at a recent poster session of the 57th annual American Association of Children’s Residential Centers (AACRC) conference:

Grafton Without Walls

Jamie Stewart, in a previous blog post, highlighted how children with different disabilities are treated within our local behavioral health and education systems. This post in turn propelled me to reflect on the progress that we have made as educators in supporting children with disabilities.