Man watering plants in greenhouse.

DDI Team Members Bring Innovation and Self-Expression Workshops to Upstate Conference

The conference was attended by hundreds of people including providers, family members, individuals, and caregivers.  Conference workshop tracks included Self-Advocacy, Leadership, Health and Wellness, Workforce, Autism Spectrum, Housing, and Behavioral Supports and Ethics to name a few.  
A team of people from Developmental Disabilities Institute's Adult Residential Program was invited to co-present with Simply Home technology at this year's NYAII conference.  The workshop, Doing My Own Thing:  Transition to Independence Using Enabling Technology introduced the attendees to Colleen, an individual who recently transitioned from a 24-hour supervised living environment to an apartment of her own.  From skills assessment, data collection and person-centered teaching strategies Colleen and her team discussed the decisions involved in having to balance risk with her desire for independence.
Colleen shared she can now administer her medication, cook what she wants, and most importantly, feel safe in her own home thanks to the Simply Home technology.  In addition to her personal story, staffing issues and fiscal considerations were discussed in detail by the DDI staff.
Megan and Colleen
Featured left to right:  Meghan O'Sullivan, Simply Home and Colleen from DDI
Led by DDI's Adult Residential Services clinical team, the workshop Sexual Expression = Health and Wellness garnered particular interest from conference attendees.  In 2017 DDI's Adult Residential Sexual Expression Committee proceeded with a long-term goal:  to support the men and women served at DDI regarding their sexual expression.  The committee started with sexual interest survey and soon discovered that almost every item on the survey referred to aspects of health - physical, mental, social, and sexual.  
The team designed and developed a new educational model via a series of Health and Wellness events tailored to the unique needs of the men and women they support.  Consent, individualization, safety, team process and staff training were discussed in detail with conference attendees.
Sexual Expression Presenters
Featured left to right:  Heather Clark, Marina Melillo, Sheila Thurman, Linda Hudson,  Richard G. Timo, Ph.D., and Jeanann Defeo
As the conference was nearing the final day, the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation presented its annual art exhibit.  In addition to various works of art, DDI's own Garrett Petersen, recreation coordinator and Matthew LaValle, program manager, were invited to the Networking Neighborhood at the Art Show to demonstrate DDI's work with virtual reality.
The Google Expeditions Virtual Reality headsets have been at the forefront of DDI's efforts to improve and enhance desensitization strategies for individuals who struggle with everyday activities such as going to the supermarket, dental visits or getting a haircut. 
"I am proud of the efforts of Colleen and the staff who attended the conference and those who work each day to advance the mission of DDI, " stated Kim Mudano, co-director of Adult Residential Services. "Providers become stronger when they share resources that can assist the people we support; it's a win for everyone involved."