April newsletter now available

April 30, 2010 by JoLynne Lyon

Parent-child play is good for development. Read all about it in the CPD's April NewsFlash.

Check out April’s NewsFlash, featuring the CPD’s multifaceted approach to autism and a fundraising campaign for the CPD’s new developmental playground, which will help provide support to the families of children with disabilities. We thank all conors and volunteers who have already contributed to this project and invite others to join in the effort.

Happy reading, and happy spring.

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Leadership trainees bring autism message to Congressional offices

April 30, 2010 by JoLynne Lyon

The Utah group met with Utah Congressman Jim Matheson and staff members of four other Utah representatives and senators to increase awareness on disability law.

Representatives of the CPD, the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council and the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND) program came together earlier this month to stay in touch with Utah’s Congressional delegation.

They attended the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, DC and also spent some time on Capitol Hill.

It was a valuable experience for URLEND trainee Terisa Gabrielsen, who is involved in URLEND’s autism enhancement track. As the group planned out its visits on Capitol Hill, Terisa and fellow trainee Michelle Villalobos were assigned to speak on autism.

Teresa is a school psychology doctoral student from the University of Utah, and her involvement in autism-specific training through the LEND program gave made the visit important to her. “Our goal was to get support for the reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act and the Autism Treatment Acceleration Act,” she said.

She spoke specifically on how an interdisciplinary, multifaceted approach to autism is just starting to take hold in Utah through URLEND. The program’s autism-specific training is funded through the Combating Autism Act Initiative. URLEND trains post-graduate students and professionals to get a more complete picture of health care for children and adolescents with disabilities. The program is co-directed by Dr. Judith Holt.

The visit’s purpose was to make sure the reauthorizations and other issues were on the Utah delegation’s radar, said CPD Policy Analyst Jeff Sheen. “We were very much listened to. … It’s always a good opportunity to connect.”

The URLEND trainees went in with a fact sheet and a plan. They came away with some valuable experience. They met face-to-face with Representative Jim Mattheson and with staff members of four other Utah representatives and senators. Terisa came away impressed with how easy it was to communicate with them. “You can talk to your congressman if you make an appointment. They’re a lot more accessible than you think.”

Other tools that she found helpful were the fact sheet and a good, working understanding of the issues. Even better is a solution to suggest and an idea of how to fund it.

The group benefited from the expertise of its members, including Utah Developmental Disabilities Council Legislative Member Paul Ray, a state representative from Clearfield who sits on the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee of the Utah Legislature. Also present was URLEND faculty member Janice Palumbos, who teaches genetics.

As for Terisa, the Washington visit probably won’t be the last time she talks to policy makers, though her next efforts will be closer to home.

“It was kind of exciting,” she said.

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Refurbished Mobility Devices Available from CReATE

April 26, 2010 by cpehrson

CReATE is part of the Utah Assistive Technology Program at the Center for Persons with Disabilities.  The purpose of CReATE is to refurbish mobility devices and provide them at a low cost to people who might not receive them otherwise. These devices are donated and restored at a warehouse in Salt Lake City, where certified technicians make sure they are safe, dependable and available.

The cost of mobility devices can run into thousands of dollars, and may take many months to get into the hands of those who need them.  CReATE cuts down on the cost and the waiting time by making them readily available to individuals .

To view CReATE’s updated refurbished inventory, visit their website. If you do not see a device on the inventory that will fit your needs, contact CReATE at (801) 887-9398. There are many more devices that have not been refurbished yet.

To acquire a device, follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the CReATE staff at (801) 887-9398.
  2. The CReATE office coordinator will take down necessary information.
  3. The interested person will be contacted to set up an appointment for an evaluation.
  4. After the evaluation the CReATE inventory will be reviewed to determine if there is an appropriate device.

To donate a device, you can contact that CReATE staff at 801-887-9398.  The CReATE office coordinator will discuss the procedure for making a donation.

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Web Accessibility for Educational Institutions

April 22, 2010 by cpehrson

Attending college without the use of the internet would be like trying to eat spaghetti without a fork; it’s possible but not very effective.

In today’s world, you cannot have a proper post-secondary educational experience without the internet.  Statistics show that twenty-five percent of college students take one online class per semester.  Almost every college course has one or more online components. The internet is a tremendous asset for students, faculty, and staff with disabilities, providing a level of independence that was not previously available to them.

Inaccessible websites can inhibit or severely restrict students’ participation in interactive learning settings and substantially limit the quality of their education.

In order to ensure that all individuals are able to participate fully in postsecondary settings, the complete institutional web presence needs to be accessible. Unfortunately, many postsecondary websites are not as accessible as they could be. This requires the support of the institutional administrators and a system-wide effort throughout the campus.

The GOALS (Gaining Online Accessible Learning through Self-Study) Project at the CPD has addressed this issue by developing a set of materials designed to assist administrators and institutional leaders in understanding the importance of web accessibility and developing an action plan for their institution to follow.

These materials include:
1).     An Action Paper: Leading the Charge:  Ensuring Your Institution’s Web Presence Works for Everyone that outlines the need for a system-wide accessible web content in education and issues a call for action on the part of institutional administrators.
2.)     Best Practice Indicators for Institutional Web Accessibility. This document includes four indicators defined by a series of benchmarks and the evidence of each benchmark as the basis for a web-based audit tool suitable for institutional self-study and reporting.
3.)     GOALS Benchmarking and Planning Tool.  An online Planning Tool designed for institutional administrator use in assessing their current web accessibility. This document provides a framework for planning and implementing web accessibility across an organization and draws from best practices in the field today.

One institutional administrator stated after using the GOALS’ Planning Tool, “This is a large and amorphous undertaking and by having a structure provided it assists in giving direction, starting with involving the key personnel for buy-in.”

Another user commented, “The tool has been quite useful in helping us think about what we want to do next and open the conversation on what needs to be done and  what really exists within the university.”

One of the outcomes of using the GOALS’ materials has been the enthusiasm that they generate by the institutions that have used them as shown in the following comment, “A key asset of this process is that it adds accountability so that web accessibility doesn’t become a back-burner item.  It is a source of external motivation.  As our progress is shared and we become more public, it is motivating!”

The GOALS project has created a way for post-secondary institutions to support diversity at all levels and demonstrate their commitment to supporting overall student success.

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Up to 3 Gives Hope to Families of Children with Autism

April 21, 2010 by cpehrson

The Up to 3 Early Intervention Program is tackling autism head on through a three-pronged approach.

Three years ago, the ABC classroom was created at the CPD to work with young toddlers who exhibit symptoms associated with autism or Autism Spectrum Diusorders (ASD), or who have been diagnosed with ASD.  Lead teacher, Janel Preston, teaches four classes in Logan and two other classes in Box Elder County.  Each class has 5-6 young children from the ages of 12-18 months up to three years old enrolled in it.  The teacher/student ratio is generally one-on-one, due to the support of the trained staff at Up to 3 who work in each of the classrooms.

The ABC class follows the Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters (P.L.A.Y.) Project developed by Richard Solomon, M.D. and based on the Developmental, Individualized, Relationship-based, Floortime approach developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan.

The P.L.A.Y. Project follows the National Academy of Sciences recommendations for the education of young children with ASD.  Parents and professionals should:

  • Begin interventions early (18 months to 5 years);
  • Use intensive intervention 25 hours per week;
  • Have a teacher/play partner to child ratio of 1:1 or 1:2;
  • Use interventions that are engaging;
  • Have a strategic direction (e.g., social skills, language, etc.)

Because the goal of the P.L.A.Y. project is to help parents become their child’s best play partner, parents attend all ABC classes so they can learn how to interact with their child in more effective ways.  The teachers coach the parents from the sidelines or model for them when needed on which strategies to use to engage their child as they are playing with them.

The focus of the play intervention is to follow the child’s lead and expand on what the child’s interests are at the moment. Then the parents and  teachers move them to more functional levels of behavior and more purposeful communication.

The second prong of the Up to 3 intervention brings the P.L.A.Y. approach into the child’s home where Janel meets with the parents and the child’s siblings to coach them on how to engage him in his natural environment.  The parents are asked to spend at least one hour a day in focused play with their child, using the strategies that they have learned.

The last prong of intervention brings the parents and children in the ABC classrooms together in a community-based environment once a month.  During these outings, families have a chance to participate in fun community activities that they might not feel comfortable taking their child to alone.  These activities have included going bowling & ice skating, flying kites, feeding ducks at the park, playing basketball, going to the grocery store,  and playing at the local Fun Park.  Up to 3 staff attend these outings with the families to provide support and modeling for the parents.

Parents also have a opportunity to meet other parents who are dealing with the same challenges in an informal atmosphere.  This creates a natural and very valuable support network for them that can last many years.

The ABC classrooms play an important role  in helping very young children with ASD and their families learn how to deal with the challenges of autism.  Paired with the home and community interventions,  parents who have children with autism have a great deal of support and hope as they see their children moving out of their small worlds and into the bigger world around  them.

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