Tag: Neurodiversity/Autism

Inclusive Pathways: Enhancing Higher Education for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Over the past decade, a significant expansion has occurred in national programs offering post-secondary options for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD). However, few of these programs exhibit full inclusivity and possess empirical evidence supporting their efficacy. According to Alqazlan et al. (2019), individuals with I/DD who access opportunities and support within inclusive post-secondary education (PSE) settings are poised for meaningful employment, community integration, social acceptance, and independent living (Miller et al., 2018). Additionally, peer supports, including peer mentoring, have demonstrated effectiveness in fostering positive academic, social, employment, and mental health outcomes (Wilt and Morningstar, 2020). Nevertheless, data suggests minimal opportunities and supports in Arizona to facilitate these outcomes effectively (Cawthorne, 2016; Milem et al., 2016). The Supporting Inclusive Practices in College (SIP-C) program provides comprehensive support to students with I/DD across Northern Arizona’s expansive territory. A SIP-C participant will share their firsthand experience navigating college with a learning disability, illustrating how academic and natural supports contributed to their success and positive collegiate experience.

Key Learning Outcomes

1. Understand the significance of inclusive higher education for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including its impact on employment, community integration, and independent living.

2. Explore effective peer support strategies, such as peer mentoring, in fostering positive outcomes for students with disabilities in post-secondary education.

3. Gain insights into the challenges and opportunities of inclusive practices in higher education, focusing on the SIP-C program in Northern Arizona and its role in supporting student success.

Fight for it! Dance to it! — Improving Psychophysiological Outcomes in Youth with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

This effort reports on findings from more than 105 hours of assistance/observation with adaptive dance and martial arts involving over 30 youth across a span of 17 months. Content from assisting, observing, and discussions with adaptive dance and martial arts experts is referenced, examined, and interpreted. Insights and lessons learned from the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute’s work with the Adaptive Martial Arts Association to develop national standards, guidance codified in Spectrum SKILLZ martial arts programming as interpreted/practiced by instructors in Kentucky and Virginia, adaptive dance programs offered by dance companies in Kentucky and Texas, and practicum experience as a LEND (Leadership Education in ND) fellow are incorporated.

Key Learning Outcomes

Four Key Learning Outcomes:
1) Sequenced physical activities yield unique psychophysiological benefit for those with ND.
2) Sequenced physical activities produce outcomes and benefits consistent with enhancement of EF.
3) Open (vice closed) physical activities and skills may be of greatest therapeutic value and generalization to independent daily living.
4) Principled approaches developed in dance and martial arts subcultures provide insight for advancing research inquiry and the therapeutic application of open, sequenced, adaptive PA.

Flirting Beyond Barriers: Cultivating Romantic Relationships within the IDD Community

Dillon et al. (2011) describe identity development as an ongoing process of exploring one’s sense of self regarding a set of values and beliefs. As a part of this progression, an individual examines how they would like to maintain consistency in their values, including sexual identity. Recent research has suggested that identity development takes place through adolescence and adulthood (Dillon et. al, 2011). Individuals with IDD have similar sexual desires, needs, and curiosities as those in the general population, but are consistently excluded from conversations about sex and relationships (Gougeon, 2009). There have been legislative efforts to advocate for the rights of individuals with IDD, however, Neuman (2022) notes that efforts have not adequately addressed inequities and the unique needs of IDD populations. Despite the salient role of socialization in the development of sexual identity, individuals with IDD report being told that parenthood was not an option or that their lives were already too complicated to include intimate relationships (Neuman, 2022; Booth, 2000; Booth & Booth, 2004). Given this discrepancy in education and the inequitable considerations for individuals with IDD, this project aims to amplify their voices and include them in conversations about sexuality development.

Key Learning Outcomes

1. Participants will gain an accurate understanding of the attitudes, experiences, and desires of individuals with IDD centering around relationships: Video-recorded interviews will provide an opportunity for the voices of individuals with IDD to be heard. These first-hand narratives will offer participants a new perspective of sexuality development among individuals with IDD. Participants will further their understanding of the nature of sexuality development and disrupt negative societal stereotypes.
2. Participants will be encouraged to include individuals with IDD in discussions concerning sexuality development: Adults with IDD are commonly excluded from conversations around sexual and romantic relationships. Amplifying the voices of adults with IDD will cultivate healthy environments for discussions regarding sexuality development. Accurate depictions of lived experiences among adults with IDD will encourage inclusion in formal and informal conversations concerning sexual and romantic relationships.
3. Participants will learn to disrupt harmful assumptions around human development for individuals with IDD: Participants will be encouraged to de-stigmatize societal beliefs that people with IDD are asexual or incapable of participating in a romantic relationship. Recognizing adults with IDD as sexual beings will create an environment for healthy sexuality development.

SOS: Socially Optimizing Situations (Autism)

In my over 33 years of working in the field, I have seen students with autism struggle with social skills and how this struggle affects their success in life (both in school and work). I have experienced success in the use of the strategies I will be sharing and have anecdotal experiences that I will also share. Some of the strategies I have used successfully are the following: visuals, video modeling, scripting, social stories, role-playing, checklists, and more. I will bring samples and demonstrate them.

Key Learning Outcomes

Participants will be able to describe the various social deficits that many with autism might experience.
Participants will be able to list a minimum of 3 ways to use visuals to support social situations for a student with autism.
Participants will be able to describe a way to use video modeling to teach social skills.

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