UPDN organizes Transition Institute

February 17, 2016 by Sue Reeves

By Deanna Taylor and Kim Mendenhall, UPDN

Susan Loving standing in front of a projection screen during a presentation.

Susan Loving, USOE, leads a session at the Transition Institute.

The 2016 Utah Transition Institute took place January 28 and 29 at the Davis Conference Center. The event was organized by the Utah Professional Development Network, a project of the Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education (TAESE) at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

The purpose of the institute was “to support transition planning and building capacity to improve post-school outcomes for students with disabilities.” More than 200 dedicated professionals in Utah left their places of work and invested the time to dig deep into data that informed how they designed their team transition plans for their districts and charter schools. Team participants included both special and general educators, coordinators, specialists, administrators, counselors, vocational rehabilitation representatives, counselors, agency providers, parents, and paraprofessionals.

Facilitators received one full day of training, and then spent two days providing guidance for the teams in their work on the team transition planning tool. Dr. June Gothberg, from the National Technical Assistance in Transition (NTACT), provided the facilitator training as well as support of the planning tool for all participants at the institute. Prior to the institute, team leaders from each participating district/charter school participated in an online training led by Susan Loving, Utah State Office of Education (USOE) Transition Specialist, on preparing their teams for the institute. All 34 teams in attendance left with plans that will be reviewed and analyzed for technical soundness. The work will continue with the Virtual Community of Practice (V-CoP) for Transition in the coming months to insure implementation and evaluation of the team transition plans, as well as ongoing statewide transition collaboration.

In addition to team planning, outstanding keynote speakers and presenters from all over the state provided rich content for the plenary and learning sessions. Each of their presentations provided knowledge and planning of effective transition, aligning beautifully with the institute’s purpose.


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CReATE opens eBay shop

February 11, 2016 by Sue Reeves

A screen shot of the new CReATE eBay shop.

A screen shot of the new CReATE eBay shop.

CReATE, or Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment, has opened an eBay shop to expand its mission of providing assistive technology to people in need at affordable prices. CReATE is a project of the Utah Assistive Technology Program at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

CReATE collects, repairs, cleans and refurbishes used mobility devices and then provides them at a very low cost to people with disabilities. With this critical service offered by CReATE hundreds of people with significant mobility impairments have been able to remain active in their jobs, schools, and communities while awaiting doctors’ authorizations, insurance reimbursements, and other red tape barriers that would have otherwise left them stranded – sometimes for months.

The CReATE eBay shop went live on January 22 and has sold two items. The eBay seller name is “4UATprogram.”


CAC Corner: Mindfulness and self-compassion

February 9, 2016 by Sue Reeves

By Claire Mantonya, Utah DD Council

Burning CandlesI started off 2016 by attending a 5-day intensive at the Sedona Mago Retreat Center, learning and practicing mindful self-compassion. One of the teachers was Kristen Neff, Ph.D. (www.self-compassion.org), who is a professor at the University of Texas in Austin. Kristen’s life work and research is focused upon self-compassion. Incidentally, Kristin is a mother of a young son with autism and it is very interesting to hear how she has used her work as both a mother and a mindful self-compassion practitioner and in helping her son manage feelings. A documentary was made about their  journey as a family that premiered in 2009 as Sundance movie, The Horse Boy. (http://www.horseboymovie.com/)

Mindful self-compassion is learning how to treat oneself like we treat our friends and family members–with compassion. There is much scientific research behind these practices and I am interested in getting more people to learn about this to help everyone, including caregivers in the disability arena. I believe that learning mindful self-compassion should be taught to everyone as a basic skill. I wish I had learned about it at a much younger age.

A couple of the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council staff attended the National Leadership Symposium at the University of Delaware this month and they learned that several provider agencies are actually using ‘mindfulness’ as a practice to help their clients learn to manage their own behavior rather than focusing on the typical behavior plans used to support people with disabilities! Mindfulness teaches a person to manage their own behavior!

I want to encourage you to explore and learn about mindful self-compassion for yourself. Look at Kristen’s website as a great start.

Hearts for DLS

February 4, 2016 by Sue Reeves

happy-valentines-day_Mk5rKo_d_LDSL participants are busy making Valentines cards for their families, and would love to make extras for you! A $10 donation brings you a handmade, personalized Valentine. That same $10 donation provides two hours of respite care for a person with a disability and their loved ones.

If you buy four Valentines for $40—that’s a whole day of respite care—we’ll throw in a fifth Valentine as a thank you. Valentines can be personalized with names and/or a special message for your loved one.

To order your handmade Valentines, visit Julie Wilson at the CPD on the first floor of the HSRC, or Drake Rasmussen at the DSL (857 N 800 E) and pre-pay with cash or check before 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9. You can pick up your Valentines at the same location between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12. If you have an office on campus, we’d be happy to deliver them to you on Friday in time for you to give to your loved ones.

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TAESE to review services

February 2, 2016 by Sue Reeves

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 8.40.16 AMRecently, the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) announced that a new focus for federal and state compliance monitoring for the implementation of IDEA will be in the area of services for students placed in juvenile correctional settings.  In a “Dear Colleague Letter” from the Department of Education, OSEP Director Melody Musgrove and then Acting Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin described the obligations of federal, state, and local agencies to ensure the protections of the IDEA for students placed in correctional settings, including the requirement to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to students with disabilities in “…ensuring successful outcomes…” for all students (Dear Colleague Letter on Correctional Education, December 5, 2014).

The Utah State Office of Education (USOE), Special Education Services section, has asked the center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education (TAESE), one of the divisions of the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University, to conduct an independent review of services for students with disabilities who are placed in Youth in Custody (YIC) settings across the state.  In cooperation with the state Juvenile Justice Services division (JJS), the intent of this project is to provide information to the USOE regarding the “State of FAPE” for students who are receiving their education in YIC or correctional settings.

The project involves a team consisting of educational program specialists from TAESE and program staff from the special education division of the USOE.  The project will include the review and evaluation of local systems across the state that are representative of students placed in correctional facilities, residential placement facilities, as well as adult jail settings.  The project should be complete later this spring.