URLEND, IDASL trainees attend conference

October 24, 2012 by Sue Reeves

Trainees from two projects with the Center for Persons with Disabilities attended a major conference in Houston, Tex., last week without ever leaving home. The two-day conference, originating from Baylor Medical Center, focused on challenges and supports available to transition youth with significant medical issues from pediatric to adult care, said Dr. Judith Holt, co-director of the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (URLEND) project. Significant medical issues, Holt said, could include chronic medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis or cardiac problems to developmental issues like autism.

“Attendance at the conference was not required, but the trainees can use the hours toward meeting their overall hour requirement,” Holt said. “It’s an example of the opportunities the trainees have here at the Center for Persons with Disabilities.”

According to Holt, only a few members of the 2012 cohort of 48 trainees attended portions of the conference in the CPD’s distance learning room, but many more viewed it from eight different URLEND sites in five states. Trainees from the CPD’s Interdisciplinary Disability Awareness and Service Learning (IDASL) project also attended.

URLEND trainees participated in the 13th annual conference by invitation, Holt said, and the program was able to utilize a single access code for all of the sites because the trainees were so spread out.

“I was really very impressed with it,” Holt said. “The speakers were excellent. It’s another opportunity for trainees in our programs to participate in high-level conferences on significant topics.”

URLEND trainees from a variety of disciplines are brought together with faculty and families of children with special health care needs to form an interdisciplinary learning cohort. Each long-term trainee participates in didactic (classroom) learning, leadership research, and clinical learning. Disciplines include pediatric medicine, genetics, and dentistry; psychology; social work; nursing; audiology; pediatric audiology; health administration; nutrition; special education; speech and language pathology; occupation therapy; and physical therapy.

IDASL provides opportunities for students, as well as individuals with disabilities and family members of children with disabilities, to become part of interdisciplinary teams. These teams, with faculty mentors, provide services and supports to children with disabilities and their families, as well as adults with disabilities.

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Brown Bag Discussion: CPD’s ASD Interdisciplinary Clinic

September 29, 2011 by cpehrson

“This is the place we should be doing this,” claimed one of the presenters at this month’s CPD Brown Bag discussion.

He was talking about the new ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) Clinic that opened at the CPD earlier this year.

Dr. Martin Toohill, along with fellow clinicians George Wooten, Janel Preston, and Vicki Simonsmeier, shared with an interested audience how the concept of  developing an interdisciplinary team at the CPD evolved out of a brainstorming session during a URLEND training project.

“The idea of working in (medical) ‘teams’ is a relatively new concept in Western practices,” Wooten told CPD staff.  ‘What better place in Cache Valley to do this than here at the CPD where we have all the disciplines represented.”

The purpose of the ASD Clinic is to provide one place where parents can bring their child when they suspect signs of autistic behaviors and receive a diagnosis that denies or confirms their feelings…and do this in as efficient and thorough a way as possible.

Because autism encompasses a broad spectrum of symptoms, a single brief evaluation cannot predict a child’s true abilities or diagnosis.  The Clinic offers a best-practices interdisciplinary, one-stop, unified approach.  The team consists of a pediatrician, a psychologist, a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist, an audiologist, and a care coordinator, all of whom are part of the CPD family.

Early intervention care coordinator, Janel Preston, said that the greatest complaint she hears from parents is that, during their child’s initial diagnosis, they had to ‘go around to see twenty different people, answer the same questions over and over again, and do this all in the same building.’

The ASD Clinic will eliminate those problems which will lessen the stress on parents and give the child a more thorough evaluation.  Along with the interdisciplinary diagnosis, parents will receive recommendations for treatment and intervention options.

The presenters were very excited and optimistic for the future of the ASD Clinic.  The next hurdle is to make it financially viable, and then “there is no limit to the direction this service can go!”


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Judith Holt receives USU’s Human Service Award

March 7, 2011 by cpehrson

Dr. Judith Holt, CPD’s Interdisciplinary Training Division director,  has been recognized by her colleagues at Utah State University with the 2011 Strong Human Service Award.

This Award was established by the former Dean of the Emma Eccles College of Education and Human Services, Dr. Carol Strong, as a means of recognizing outstanding achievements and contributions to the field of human services.

The Award honors a CEHS faculty member for significant and sustained leadership in human services, applying research to improve the lives of children or adults.  It also recognizes cross-college and interdisciplinary efforts.

For the past decade, Dr. Holt has been the Co-Director for the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND), and is the Director of the Interdisciplinary Disability Awareness and Service Learning Project (IDASL). Dr. Holt is the Principle Investigator and Project Director for a variety of additional projects at the CPD that involve designing, implementing, and evaluating supports and services for children, youth, and adults with disabilities and their families.

The Strong Human Services Award follows on the heels of the Life Time Service Award that Dr. Holt was honored with at the Brain Injury Association of Utah’s Annual Conference in October of last year.

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CPD Legacy Story: Andrea Pitts

January 5, 2011 by cpehrson

This first CPD Legacy Story of 2011 is from Andrea Pitts who has been associated with CPD projects for over five years.  Her story covers a wide range of experiences that you will enjoy reading about.

My name is Andrea Pitts.  I have been involved in various projects with the CPD since 2005. I started as an advocate, speaking solely from personal experience, as I have a physical disability of my own.  However, as I progressed through my schooling to become a social worker, I found myself combining my professional training with my life experiences, which helped broaden my perspective as an advocate.

The first project I participated in was the Medical Home. It was initially meant to teach medical professionals the importance of early preparation for transition from pediatric care to adult health care services. However, it later evolved into a greater goal of providing resources for both medical professionals and the families dealing with the disability on a daily basis.  Throughout the three year project, I worked with my peers refining the Medical Home website and speaking publicly about my own transitional process.  The Medical Home project was my first significant experience as an advocate and the passion I developed from making our voices heard has been absolutely invaluable for me both personally and professionally.

After closing the Medical Home project in 2008, I was asked to help launch the Becoming Leaders of Tomorrow (BLT) training and advocacy group.  The goal of this group was to help individuals with disabilities gain the skills and opportunities needed to empower themselves to direct their own goals for the future.  As the group progressed, we created a toolkit that can be found on the BLT website: http://blt.cpd.usu.edu/Contact.html.  The toolkit encompasses information on various topics ranging from education, employment and tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The BLT project was another great stepping stone for my growth as an advocate.  I worked more closely with individuals with various types of disabilities, not just physical.  Gaining a greater multi-dimensional perspective of the disability community not only strengthened my voice as an advocate, but also my perspective of individuals, as a social worker.

While I was pursuing my Masters Degree in Social Work last year, I was asked to participate in 2009-2010 Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND) training program.  I represented the Social Work portion of the interdisciplinary hands-on learning approach of the URLEND program.  Though there were many other aspects of URLEND that are memorable for me, the activities I remember the most were the clinics.  We were asked to visit various clinics throughout Salt Lake City and Logan and work closely with families to provide any support or expertise they may need, but also to learn about the daily struggles they experience as a caregiver of a child with a disability.   These clinical experiences were absolutely invaluable to my professional perspective.  I was able to see the advantages of “one stop shopping” clinics where the child was able to see many disciplines (audiologist, speech pathologist, orthopedic specialist etc.) during one half day appointment rather than having to make multiple visits per month to ensure all the child’s health issues were being monitored.  Many parents personally praised the “one stop shopping,” stating that it made life so much easier to get it all done in one day.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a URLEND trainee and the information that I learned from the program as a whole will only help me better serve my future clients, both with and without disabilities.

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CPD class is key in preparing USU students to work with people with disabilities

August 30, 2010 by cpehrson

By Becky Keeley, IDASL Training Development Specialist

Daniel Roberts, an IDASL student presenting his research during USU Research Week 2010.

The Interdisciplinary Disability Awareness and Service Learning Program (IDASL) offers opportunities for students from a variety of disciplines to increase their awareness, knowledge and understanding of people with disabilities and their families across the life span.

Seniors and graduate students from a variety of disciplines are encouraged to enroll in the IDASL Program, which is listed as Special Ed 6500.  In the past, students from diverse disciplines, such  as audiology, elementary education, family and human development, music therapy, school psychology, social work, special education and speech pathology,  have participated in the IDASL Program which has a strong interdisciplinary component.  With the growing numbers of individuals with disabilities and their families, anyone going out into the professional world could have contact with people with disabilities.

According to the US Census Bureau, nearly one in five people in the United States have at least one disability.  The possibility of acquiring a disability increases with age.  By retirement age of 65 years old, 44. 6% of the population report having a disability.  By old age, over 85 years old, 84.2% report a disability.  With numbers like these, disability will most likely touch everyone.  The IDASL Program prepares students to interact in a world, both professionally and privately, where disability is a part of life.

Individuals with disabilities and family members of children with disabilities are encouraged to participate and share their unique expertise in the IDASL Program. The real-life experience with a disability greatly enhances the disability awareness and understanding of the disability community for the college students taking the class.

A student related how much she learned from a mother of a child with disabilities with these words: “I learned so much when [the mother] talked about how important people-first language is.  Her daughter has multiple disabilities, but she isn’t defined by them.”

A community member with a disability who participated in the IDASL program responded that she wanted “to share about [her] TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury),” thus becoming an advocate.  After a seminar relating the history of disability and societal attitudes, she had this to say about how people have reacted to her disability: “I have a deeper understanding of my negative experiences.”  Including community members with disabilities has positively impacted both the students and themselves.

One student shared the most important thing he learned after participating in the IDASL Program: “Instead of focusing on disabilities, let’s focus on abilities.  Focus on the person—everything is about the person, bettering their life, helping them feel like they are doing something, feeling fulfilled.”

The IDASL Program offers students much more than the typical academic credits and stipend. Using their interdisciplinary skills and disability awareness, students can benefit people with disabilities they will meet and serve in their professional and private lives far beyond graduation.

For more information about the IDASL program, you can go to the IDASL project description or contact Alma Burgess or Jeanie Peck.

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