Independent Living

Tue, February 21, 2012
I worked in residential/service coordination in Virginia, my home state, for about five years. So when I read that Virginia will close four state institutions for people with developmental disabilities and move thousands of people to their own homes, their family's houses or group homes as part of a settlement announced recently with the U.S. Justice Department, I thought this is great news about a move in direction that is long overdue. The agreement came after a scathing federal report of the...
Mon, February 13, 2012
Over the last two years Iola has been working on increasing her preparation, attendance, and advocacy toward all her medical appointments, as well as completing all of her daily and weekly responsibilities within her residence. The team worked with Iola to develop a points system/token economy that would reward Iola each time she completed her medical and residential responsibilities. Over the last 24 months Iola has worked very hard, becoming more independent while also working toward a BIG...
Thu, February 23, 2012
I recently picked up and am in the middle of reading "The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to be a Better Husband" by David Finch. While I have mixed feelings about it so far it is witty, insightful and an interesting read. The author discovers that he is an 'aspie' (a person with Asperger's syndrome) in his 30s. But the main take away I have is that this is a man who is trying to understand himself, his world and how to navigate it better...
Tue, January 24, 2012
You should never be afraid of who you are. You should never be afraid what you have. You should be proud of who you are. You should stand up strong and love who you are.
Thu, January 26, 2012
I was amazed, as I watched more than 24 individuals with Asperger's syndrome mark the holidays recently just like anyone else would. They socialized at their party and played charades, 20 questions and Pictionary -- activities designed to help enhance their social skills. The partygoers were all students or graduates of NIPD/NJ's Asperger's Skill Building Network. "This program has given me a great reason to get out and meet people," said Emily, 22, who has attended the program since September...
Tue, February 07, 2012
I've waited years to see this. And Tuesday, Feb. 7, was definitely worth the wait. Six residents moved into their own home in Brooklyn -- the "Dream House" or E. 52nd St. Residence, whichever you prefer. It doesn't get much better than this. There were parents hanging boxes, bags of clothing being dragged in, hooks going up on closet doors, siblings working on the wireless system . . . just like any other people moving into a new home. But this was not an average day by any means. The home had...
Mon, April 23, 2012
Edward Ciramella recently presented the following remarks at a Westchester Legislative Breakfast. My name is Edward Ciaramella and I'm a resident in a YAI group home in Westchester County. I go out in the community to enjoy movies, sports events, and out to shows on the weekend. The residence is clean, the staff and residents are friendly and pleasant with one another. The staff are very conscientious. I feel that the residence is a real home, because I have a computer, TV and CD player and...
Tue, January 10, 2012
Because of our son's disability, my husband's and my hands-on parenting responsibilities for Jeff have gone on many years longer than with our other child. In spite of a relatively high level of independence that he has been able to attain, we continue to have to monitor his comings and goings closely. We anticipate a big hole in our lives when he moves out next month. We are very excited but also nervous about how we fill that hole. YAI Dream House As the day comes closer and closer, our...
Mon, June 18, 2012
It all started with the "In My Shoes Presentation" at the YAI International Conference in May. "It was one of the main highlights of the conference," one person told me. In fact a self-advocate from North Dakota was so impressed, she asked us if we would travel there to do a show! Jerry and Melvin's photography and artwork were displayed and available for sale at the conference. Then came the Central Park Challenge! The YAI Self-Advocacy Group was asked to perform a Rap number on stage. It was...
Thu, June 07, 2012
YAI's Day Services Independent Travel Training program is much more than teaching individuals how to access public transportation so they can commute from their homes to a day program. Being a travel trainer is tough. It's early mornings, long days riding the crowded public transit system, and it can be so tempting to offer quick solutions to the trainee (which would be counterproductive because the skill of independent travel requires confidence and decision making.) But that first time your...

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