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Five Exercises to Help Adults with IDD Take Control of Their Life

Many people may not realize how important exercise can be to living a fuller, better life. But exercise offers many benefits to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). It can help them rev up their energy. It can build stamina. Getting moving can help people feel more alert and could even make them happier. 

If adults with IDD get into the habit of doing just a few exercises a day, they can improve their coordination, be more flexible, improve balance, and fall down less. Stronger muscles and a clearer mind will help them be more independent. 

As a caregiver, don’t let individuals with IDD stay parked in front of the TV. They’ll do better if you do them a favor and encourage them to get active. 

Doing so could also help reduce their risk of heart disease, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, overweight, and obesity. And you won’t need to go to a gym or hire a personal trainer to get them to exercise. In fact, adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities can take control of their lives with safe exercises at home that can be modified to fit their needs.

The following five exercises are ideal for starting a fitness routine, according to Jared Ciner, a certified personal trainer, disabilities support counselor, and founder/director of SPIRIT Fit & Health. As a disabilities support counselor, he realized that people with IDD often need adapted strategies to accomplish certain goals. In 2013, he teamed up with a Sam Smith, a personal trainer with Asperger’s syndrome, to design group health and fitness programs for teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

The exercises below, which we have adapted from The Arc, will help all people maximize their strength, health, and independence. Each exercise aims to improve stability, strength, and cardiovascular endurance.

    1. The Plank: Place both hands on the ground directly under your shoulders. Then extend your legs behind you and hold your midsection up with your back straight. Your hands and your feet will be the only things touching the ground. Hold this position for as long as possible. [This is a great way to strengthen your core.] Here’s the look you’re aiming for with the plank. Can you hold it a minute or longer? When you’re done, high five, if you can! 
    2. High Knees: Stand up tall with your back straight. Place your hands in front of your torso and lift one knee up to your hand. Alternate legs and try to bring your knees as high as they can go. Do this exercise for 30 to 60 seconds. [This will not only stretch your hips, legs, and back, it will also strengthen your core, improve balance, and give you good cardiovascular training to improve your stamina and weight management.] This trainer makes high knees look fun.  
    3. Arm Circles: Stand up tall and extend your arms out to the sides as far as they can go. Bring your shoulder blades back towards each other and move your arms forward in small circles for 20 to 30 seconds. Then move your arms backwards in circles for 20 to 30 seconds. See how to do arm circles. [This will strengthen muscles in your shoulders, neck, and upper back. And it will increase your upper body strength and help improve your posture.
    4. Single-leg Balance: Stand up straight, take a deep breath, and find a good center of balance. Lift one foot off the ground. Try to balance for 30 seconds. Then switch feet. If you can do both sides without tapping your elevated foot down on the ground, try this with your eyes closed. See how to do single-leg balance. [Balance is a vital life skill for all people, especially those with IDD. This exercise will keep you stable and reduce your risk of hurting yourself in a fall. If this seems too hard, you can do this balance exercise while holding onto something like a chair.]
    5. Squats: Stand up tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Sit your butt backwards and bend your knees as if you are sitting into a chair. Keep your knees behind your toes (keep your weight on your heels, not your toes), and try to keep your back parallel to your shins. Doing this in front of a mirror or partner will help. Squat until your legs reach a 90 degree angle or until you cannot hold the proper form. Repeat 10 to 20 times. Here’s what your squats should look like. [This is a fantastic way to strengthen your core, hips, and legs.]

 

 

For more details and information on easier and harder versions of the exercises, visit The Arc.

Read more

Around Town: Fun Things to do in Philly

 

Purpose and Paycheck for an Individual at Casmir

Part of our mission here at Casmir Care Services involves helping improve the quality of life for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Where possible, we help individuals we care for enter the mainstream and contribute to the community in different ways.

One of the more independent individuals in our care at Casmir Community Residential Homes holds a job.  To protect her privacy, I’ll call her Gwendolyn. For her, besides the paycheck, the job offers a sense of purpose and helps connect her socially. It’s a justifiable source of pride.

Her role in Philly’s community

Since 2017, Gwendolyn has worked at Acme, the grocery store, as a bagger. When asked what she likes about her job, she says, “Going to work every day, getting out of the house.” Having a job makes her feel good, she says.  She gets to see friends at work.

Gwendolyn seems to appreciate the chance to be of service. Her favorite part of the job, she says, is cleaning bathrooms every day.

According to the Institute for Corporate Productivity, more than 3 in 4 employers surveyed ranked their employees with IDD as good or very good on work quality, motivation, engagement, integration with co-workers, dependability, and attendance. While initially leery of hiring people with IDD, many employers saw their concerns dissolve after the employees came on board and they realized how good their productivity was.

She manages her daily routine

Punctuality is important to Gwendolyn. Holding a job means she has to take responsibility for clocking in on time. To get ready for work, she likes to get up early—at 5:30 am, then she takes a shower and gets dressed in her uniform. 

To make sure she gets to work on time, she will leave the house an hour and a half to two hours before the time she is expected at work. That way, no matter what issues come up with SEPTA delays or traffic during her two-bus commute, she shows up on time without fail. Her work day stretches from 9 am to 2 pm or 3 pm. She works four days a week. But from week to week, her schedule changes.

When it comes to those schedules, Gwendolyn is super detail oriented, aware that certain days, like Sundays, the bus doesn’t run as often. And she plans around that to ensure she gets to work on time.

The benefits of inclusive employment

Every Friday is payday. She earns $9/hour, the typical rate for a bagger at Acme. And as an Acme worker, she qualifies for a discount of 10 percent off store brands and 5 percent off everything else.

Unlike some people with IDD, who have a special supervisor at work, she reports to the same person as everybody else. She thinks her boss likes her work, because he says she does a good job.

In the past, she worked at the convention center, cleaning bathrooms and collecting trash.

When Gwendolyn is not at work, she likes preparing for the next day of work, going shopping at the dollar store, and going to the movies.

She has a great work ethic,” said Rachel, a Casmir supervisor. She takes what she does with pride. She likes to do her job well. She likes to keep her bosses happy. And she doesn’t like anything to stand in her way and make her late. Here’s hoping Gwendolyn’s workplace realizes how lucky they were to hire her.

 

Learn more:

The importance of work for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities

Hiring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is good for business
Resources from the U.S. Dept. of Labor on hiring people with disabilities

Creative Problem-Solving is a Daily Challenge for Caregivers

A caregiver’s job at Casmir Care Services involves creative problem-solving.

Being responsible for individuals with intellectual disabilities often may involve being attentive to certain behaviors or defusing situations before they escalate.

One individual in the residential community likes collecting bags. Not just any plastic store bag, but the complimentary bags that are fancier than normal. Every time she goes somewhere, she’ll collect more bags and bring them home.

The downside, said Daisy Williams, a direct care professional with Casmir Care’s Residential Homes, is that individual has hoarding tendencies. So there’s a fine line between recognizing what brings a person joy and trying to keep a living space uncluttered.

That means she can shop as much as she wants. The individual’s love of shopping presents Daisy with an opportunity to help teach her how to keep her living space clean. Daisy cannot limit the number of bags the individual can get from the shop, but she can teach her about the need to keep her living space free from clutter and hygienic. But the individual didn’t want to do her own decluttering.

 

Overcoming Resistance

To avoid conflict over the need to toss bags out, Daisy sought to avoid confrontation that could create stress. Instead she takes a rather creative approach to manage the clutter. She will sometimes rearrange the resident’s bedroom while she’s away. That way, when the individual comes back, she can enjoy a neat room.

But before Daisy makes any changes to a room, she makes sure the individual has control over what happens by making a light suggestion like: “I think it’s a good time to look around your room and see what direction we want to put the bed in.” Then the individual will say, “Alright Daisy, you do it while I’m in school.”

As it turns out, the individual always gets excited in a good way when her room gets changed. And asking her whether she wants her room rearranged gives her control in the matter. Her opinion counts.

In any given day, direct care professionals need to solve problems and call upon their creativity as they work with the program’s individuals to create win-win situations, using empathy and compassion to work around each individual’s needs.

What Qualities Does Casmir Care Services Seek in Its Best Applicants?

 

To help applicants get a better idea of what Casmir Care Services Inc. looks for when evaluating job applicants, we asked Chinyere Dunkley, our assistant director of Human Resources, to share what qualities and abilities we look for.

Q: What basic skills, qualities, and abilities do you look for in every strong caregiver applicant?

A: Every strong caregiver applicant is someone who is patient, flexible, compassionate, innovative, creative, honest, and empathetic. 

Strong applicants are good at communicating and can advocate for our individuals effectively. This is someone who is attentive, dependable trustworthy, encouraging, and supportive with good problem-solving skills. 

Most importantly, we look for someone who is passionate about our company and its mission and willing to learn and grow with the company. 
 
Q: What kinds of experience do you seek in applicants?

A: We look for at least one year of experience. But we encourage people who are willing and have an urge to learn and gain experience as well as grow in the field to apply. We offer extensive training and have a management team that strives to help employees become the best employees whether they have experience or not.  We also understand that people do need to at least start somewhere.

Q: What is the title for the job opening that you find yourself most frequently hiring for? 

A: The job opening that I find myself most frequently hiring for is Direct Support Professional/Residential Aide and Site Supervisor.

Q: When you think about applicants who were particularly strong, what made them pop out of the pile of job applicants? 

A: The most outstanding applicants are usually those who fill their application out in its entirety and are very detailed on their application, most importantly, on the survey questions.

Q: What are turnoffs or red flags on applications? Or when you contact professional references?

A: I notice when people answer certain questions wrong like their date of birth, the continuous misspelling of words, gaps in employment, and those who answer the surveys with one word or only offer personal references.

Q: When you interview applicants, are there any common mistakes they make? 

A: Sometimes applicants doubt themselves and instead of guessing and/or trying to learn while in the interview, they shut down and say, “I don’t know,” or “I don’t want to be wrong,” because they think they may get a question wrong.

Q: What are rare traits or qualities that you would love to see more of?

A: We would love to see more people who come to work for the sole purpose of caring for our individuals and not to gossip, fraternize, and collect a paycheck.

 


Upcoming Open Houses  

Casmir Care Services is hiring Direct Care Professionals and Caregivers for individuals with disabilities. Come to our open house and learn about Casmir Care and the individuals we serve.

May 16, May 30

Noon – 4:00 PM

4950 Parkside Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19131
RSVP: Call (267) 292-3116 to sign up

Tips to Make Travelling with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities Easier

If travel is stressful for most of us, it can be even more traumatic for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD). Often travel involves dealing with new things—something that can be nerve-wracking for people who tend to avoid deviations from their routine. And it virtually always involves more sensory stimulation than an individual might be used to.

Yet travel offers many benefits to individuals with IDD. Besides offering a break from the daily routine and a new way to rest and relax, it can get them outdoors being more physically active. Travelers immerse themselves in new experiences, widening horizons and creating memories they can revisit for years to come. Travel can also enhance a person’s health and well-being by helping them grow through safe experiences that expand their comfort zone.

Perhaps the most important tip I can offer caregivers who want to travel with an individual with IDD is to plan and prepare in advance. This may involve asking for special accommodations to simplify travel, whether by getting advance boarding or booking a hotel room that does not face a busy city avenue, for instance. That way, you can smooth the way, even as the individual encounters new experiences.

10 Tips for Travelling with Individuals with IDD

  1. Consider a dry run. Before staying in a hotel, try a night at a friend’s home first. Families that are concerned about a member with IDD’s ability to travel may wish to check out the Arc’s Wings for Autism and Wings for All initiatives. The programs give families the opportunity to practice entering the airport, obtaining boarding passes, going through security and boarding a plane. Contact the Arc to find out if your local airport offers such a program.
  2. Call ahead. Most hotels and other travel-related service providers need some time to make the necessary arrangements to accommodate people with special needs. Mention your needs at the time of reservation. And double check by calling the provider 24 to 48 hours before your arrival to confirm that proper accommodations have been made.
  3. Be specific and clear when you describe the disability. Not all service providers know the jargon of accessible travel or the medical terms for some conditions. “Give as many details as you can about what the individual can and can’t do,” says Smarter Travel, “and don’t downplay the severity of the disability.” After all, the more information you give the service provider, the better they will be able to accommodate you. 
  4. If flying, don’t forget to bring some form of identification for the individual. Check the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) list of approved forms of i.d.
  5. Know your rights. Before going through the security checkpoint at your airport, be aware of TSA’s rules for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. See also the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Disability Resource Center.
  6. When going through security screenings, passengers with IDDs, such as Down syndrome or autism, may be screened without being separated from their traveling companions. Consult the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer about the best way to relieve any concerns during the screening process. The individual or caregiver may also provide the officer with the TSA notification card or other medical documentation to describe the condition.
  7. Consider using a travel agent who specializes in working with intellectually or developmentally impaired travelers. Check out the agent search database at TravelSense.org to find travel agents who fit your needs. Some travel agencies specialize in working with people with developmental disabilities. They include: Hammer TravelNew Directions Travel, Trips Inc., Search Beyond, and Sprout.
  8. Avoid connecting flights, when possible. Flying direct can save time and reduce hassle. If you must transfer to a different flight en route to your destination, allow lots of time between flights to get from the arrival gate to the departure gate. Ninety minutes or two hours should give you enough wiggle room to make it from gate to gate without having to race through the airport.
  9. Allow plenty of time for check in, getting through the security line, and transferring to your gate. Arrive at least two hours before your domestic flight. And add more buffer time, if you’re traveling at a peak traffic time in the airport. This is typically weekdays, early mornings, early afternoons, and early evenings. But weekends all year round and even Fridays during the summer can be quite busy at the airport. 
  10. Be creative. If the individual you care for has special interests, consider ways to accommodate them without venturing far afield. Travel doesn’t have to involve a plane ticket. And it doesn’t have to involve a big production. A day trip or an afternoon jaunt may be a good option. For instance, maybe the adult you care for has a passion for cars. Consider going to a local classic and antique car show. Or check out the nearest big city convention center to see when the next auto show featuring the latest models will be held. Or just head to a different new car showroom close by each month to check out what’s on the market.

More Resources:

Planning a Successful Vacation: Travelling with Adults with Developmental Disabilities

Six Simple Tips for Smooth Travel with a Disability

The ABCs of Accessible Travel (a brochure from the U.S. Department of Transportation)

Around Town: Fun Things to Do in Philly

 

For a change of pace, here are a few Philly-based recreation options that caregivers of intellectually disabled individuals should keep in mind.

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Carousel House is dedicated to people with disabilities. Its year-round programming includes:

  • Trips
  • Dances
  • Bingo parties
  • Nature walks
  • Arts & crafts

Carousel House, located at Belmont Avenue and Avenue of the Republic, gives people with disabilities a chance to socialize, learn, and play. This summer, Carousel House will offer a summer sports camp for people (ages 16+) with disabilities.

National Park Service’s Access Pass is a free lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. The pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges.  

Explore National Park sites in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Team River Runner is a national nonprofit network that offers health and healing for disabled members of the community and others through therapeutic kayaking. The boats, gear, and instruction are free.

Instruction starts out with the basics in a calm river or heated, indoor pool. Team River Runner adapts the instructions to the needs of the individual with a goal of forming a supportive community that enjoys sharing a day of adventure out on the water.

Besides being a fun way to connect with nature and make new friends, kayaking offers people a chance to strengthen core muscles, improve flexibility and coordination, get excited, and clear their heads.

 

Creative Arts Therapy

The Kardon Center for Creative Arts Therapy at Settlement Music School offers music, art, and dance/movement therapy services to individuals with special needs at Settlement branches (Philly branches are at: 416 Queen St., 4910 Wynnefield Avenue, 3745 Clarendon Avenue, and 6128 Germantown Ave) and at other locations in our community.

Creative Arts Therapy is a form of non-verbal psychotherapy that uses the senses—specifically music, dance, and creative expression—to open new channels of communication between participants and their therapists, families, and communities. While goals for Creative Arts Therapy are tailored to each participant’s needs, benefits may include improved social skills, cognition, language, and physical skills. No previous training is needed to take part.

To learn about the specific offerings at the branches closest to you, contact Mark Bottos, Zausmer Program Director at the Kardon Center for Arts Therapy (Tel: 215.320.2625).

 

Avoid Sensory Overload

What counts as recreation varies by person. Those who experience sensory overload in many settings may prefer to drop in on a museum that offers special accommodations for them in Philly.

Some of the participating museums include:

  • The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University offers Access to Science events when the museum is open to visitors on the autism spectrum. The next events will be July 14 and August 25. Pre-registration is required, but can be same-day.
  • The Franklin Institute offers tools everyday for people who typically might find it a bit loud, crowded, and bright. Sensory alert maps help guide you through experiences that may involve high levels of sensory stimulation. Sensory backpacks stocked with noise-reducing headphones, sunglasses, fidgets, and weighted toys help reduce sensory stimulation while checking out the exhibits can be borrowed first-come first-served at information desks in the atrium and lobby. Plan your visit for weekday afternoons or evenings, which are less busy.
  • The Please Touch Museum offers Play Without Boundaries days, when the museum offers a more relaxed environment for individuals with autism, learning differences, and other sensory or communication needs. Accommodations include:
    • The museum is closed to the general public, so there are fewer visitors.
    • Low-level lighting and a quieter experience.
    • Tools to enhance your visit, include quiet zones
    • The next Play Without Boundaries events will be July 7, August 4, Sept. 8, October 6, and November 3. Be sure to pre-register.

Caregiving for Adults with Intellectual or Behavior Issues: How to Diffuse Tension

Working with people who have intellectual disabilities or behavioral issues can be challenging, Daisy Williams takes steps to minimize stressors in the lives of those she cares for. She has been a direct care professional who provides care for individuals who live in Casmir Care’s Community Residential homes for eight years and counting.

Her work involves direct caregiving. The individuals she works with have cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder. She helps them with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, dressing, continence and instrumental activities of daily living such as cooking, caring for pets, completing housework, and using the phone.

When caring for individuals in Casmir Care Services’ Community Residential Homes, she has noticed that sometimes what people watch on television can set them off. Someone who is fully bipolar, schizophrenic, or both, may think everything happening on “Jerry Springer” is about himself or herself. The individual may react to what they see by saying, “I don’t have any gun,” Daisy said.

 

(Residential Associate Daisy Williams demonstrates the “soft face” she uses to calm  residents down.)

Avoiding Triggers

“So, you have to be really careful about what you put on the television,” she said. Sometimes something said on TV triggers something in their memory. Then the individual may react to it by becoming sad or violent or having an outburst. “And you have to know them to be able to understand what just happened to them, so you can diffuse it,” she said.

When individuals in care are accidentally exposed to things that trigger them, Daisy’s standard procedure is to proceed with caution. “The most important thing I do is stay calm and do not speak until I’m sure that they’re ready to be approached,” she said.

As direct care staff, you must be sure it’s the best time to approach the individual. Sometimes, it is safer to not move and first carefully assess the situation.

Diffusing Tension

“And you try to look in their eyes softly,” she said. Make your eyes soft so that you can melt their heart, she advised. “Then they’ll open back up to you,” she said. “But you have to be able to do that.”

When pressed for more details, she said to put on a soft face with puppy dog eyes. You might say something like: “I feel your pain. Tell me what you need. I wish I could make it go away.” Watch the person’s body language. Once they relax, perhaps unballing fists and you see the tension drop away from the person’s body, it will be easier to approach the individual. Then you gently say, “That was then. We’re here for you.”

Mental Redirection

If a resident is having problems that day, Daisy tries to ease them into working toward having a better day tomorrow. The idea is to keep them focused on what’s ahead and the good things in their life as opposed to whatever they were voicing concern about. She might bring up something fun they did in the past, like going to Dave & Buster’s, and suggest doing it again. The mental redirect gives them something else to think about, she explained.

Those under care trust Daisy to understand their needs. “I’m more of a mom caretaker”, she said.

As director of operations here at Casmir Care Services, I know that Daisy has a great sense of intuition that helps her manage our individuals’ needs with ease. Her antennae are always out, trying to a get a read on how they are feeling. She has the patience, flexibility, compassion, and empathy required to deal with the individuals we support. She has demonstrated this consistently over the years and with a cross-section of the individuals we support. Our individuals are lucky to have her help them through their days.

Resources
How to support a loved one during a psychotic episode
Solving problems can enhance resilience and improve adjustment
Being an effective caregiver
Caregiver and schizophrenia: How to handle the psychosis

Learning New Skills with the Help of a Little Horse Power

Did you know that a horse could help individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities achieve cognitive, physical, social, educational, and behavioral goals? As it turns out, horseback riding and even just interacting with a horse can be a form of physical and mental therapy.

PATH International, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, defines “therapeutic riding” as an equine-assisted activity that contributes positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional, and social well-being of individuals with special needs. Its benefits are many, including in health, education, and recreation and leisure.

Around the globe, thousands of individuals with special needs are experiencing the rewards of horseback riding.

Experiencing the motion of a horse can be therapeutic. Riders with physical disabilities often experience improvements in flexibility, balance and muscle strength, in addition to non-physical therapeutic benefits. And the human-horse connection can help build trust and confidence.

At therapeutic horsemanship centers, professional staff and volunteers work closely with riders to ensure safe riding sessions. A new rider may be assisted by as many as two people who walk alongside the horse. Riding classes are generally taught by an instructor with a strong equine background and an understanding of various disabilities.

Several Philly-area programs offer different forms of therapeutic riding. Among many programs Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Perkasie offers, Pieces of Freedom is specifically designed for autistic riders. It focuses on activities to improve communication skills and social interaction, sensory integration, and behavior modification. Ivy Hill also offers therapeutic community-based instruction retreats, which are non-mounted group activities for adults with physical or mental challenges.

All Riders Up in Garnet Valley serves individuals with special needs, including physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities. After working with a horse, students with physical disabilities see improvements in balance, core muscle strength, flexibility, and posture.  

Riding horses offers many benefits. Therapeutic riding is associated with improving the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals with disabilities. It can improve strength, balance, posture, and flexibility. But riding isn’t just about improving motor skills and getting better coordination.

Working with horses improves focus, concentration, relationship skills, and social interactions. And horses can help anyone develop independence and trust in oneself and others. Beyond better muscle tone and balance, riding a horse can also help a person develop more confidence and self esteem. After all, if you’re riding a horse, you’re managing to do something that most people these days haven’t experienced.

Interacting with a horse can also help individuals develop better concentration. They may feel calmer. Self awareness and focus can be enhanced through feedback from a horse. So can patience and behavioral control. Sometimes even minimally verbal autistic individuals become better at communicating after working with a horse. 

Stables offer riding options for different fees. Some offer scholarships to help families afford therapeutic riding. For example, Pegasus Riding Academy in Philly awards scholarships for therapeutic riding to clients based on financial need. Riders eligible for scholarships include disabled individuals from low- or fixed-income families, single-parent families, or families with more than one disabled family member. 

Happy trails! 

Therapeutic riding options in or near Philly:

How to Free Yourself to be a Better Caregiver

Besides the ability to creatively solve problems and defuse tension before it escalates, caregivers who work with individuals with intellectual disabilities need a certain amount of resilience to get through their work day.

Because individuals with intellectual disabilities may not have strong reasoning or social skills, they may not know how to filter out some of the thoughts that pop to mind. And that makes them fairly uninhibited about expressing their feelings when they get worked up about something or frustrated when something doesn’t go their way.

In these situations, a certain amount of resilience, patience, and flexibility can make a caregiver’s job easier. Caregivers who are able to stay calm no matter what the individual is doing will find work easier than those who are thin-skinned.

 

It’s not about you

It’s important not to take anything an individual says about you personally, says Daisy Williams, a direct care professional with Casmir Care’s Community Residential Homes. Sometimes, she has noticed that less experienced staff at places she has worked are not as easygoing or patient as other caregivers. “Their buttons are more easily pushable than mine are,” she says.

But when you don’t take things personally, it frees you to be a better caregiver, she says.

If you do take a verbal attack personally, it’s hard to use a comforting voice to pacify the person. “You have to calm yourself first and not let thoughts run through you head” about how they should know better, she says. “No, they don’t know better. They’re angry and they’re just expressing themselves, and you just happened to be right there at the time.”

 

Tomorrow is a better day

It may also help to realize that the individual might not be angry tomorrow. You might have a good day ahead with them. “So think about that,” she says. The attitude to take is: “Okay, we’re just going to get through this day and look forward to a better day tomorrow.”

As a caregiver who has been working for Casmir Care Services Inc. for eight years, Daisy has noticed that the people who stay a long time at one company have a thick skin. They tend to be the ones who are good at controlling their emotions when situations heat up. They are the ones who are able to separate the fact that the resident is just expressing himself in a way that you would if you were at home and somebody was not doing what you asked them to do.

“It helps to stay really calm, no matter what the person is doing,” she says.

 

Offer other options

And sometimes a compromise is in order. As a caregiver, you may not always be able to convince the individual to do something your way. But you can get him to understand that there are more options. For example, you might do something his way that time, but tell him, “I want to show you other ways as well.”

A lot of her job as a direct care professional with Casmir Care involves coming up with other options, Daisy says. When the individual is focused on just one thing, he may not see that there are more choices beyond the thing he is fixated on. “I show them and help them understand they can do it in many different ways and still come out with the same outcome,” she says.

For caregivers, it’s all in a day’s work.

 

Learn more:

Tips for caregivers of disabled people
Caregiver stress: Tips for taking care of yourself
7 Tips for avoiding caregiver burnout that really work

Special Olympics Gives Millions of People with Intellectual Disabilities a Way to Stand Out

You might have noticed last week that the Special Olympics was at the center of a brouhaha after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos confirmed there were plans to cut its $17.6 million in government funding. The public outcry was so fierce that President Trump quickly reversed his education secretary’s decision and authorized the funding.

Maybe he realized that cutting the funding made it look like his administration was cruel, cutting access to inclusive programs for people with intellectual disabilities.

The Special Olympics has roots in an innovative summer camp that Eunice Kennedy Shriver started for young people with intellectual disabilities in 1962 in her backyard in a Washington, D.C. suburb. She wanted to see if they could participate in sports and physical activities. It was a revolutionary idea at the time.

When the first Special Olympics games were held in 1968, people with intellectual disabilities did not have many opportunities to take part in sports. Many lived in institutions. Most could not go to school, as several years would have to pass before the law said kids with disabilities had the same right to an education as everyone else.

The Special Olympics ultimately became one of the first places where people with intellectual disabilities could be seen and accepted. Both kids and adults now participate in Special Olympics sports.

Growing Fast
By the 1980s, the Special Olympics was recognized as the premier sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities around the world.

By 2016, the Special Olympics exceeded its ambitious goal of getting 1 million athletes and partners involved in Unified Sports, which brings together people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team.

These days, 4.9 million athletes with intellectual disabilities take part in Special Olympics programs around the world. In addition, more than 1 million coaches and volunteers are involved. There are 223 programs in 172 countries.

Outstanding Athletes
In March 2019, Angela Athenas, 34, of Huntington, N.Y., won a gold medal in deadlift, squat, bench press, and overall weight lifting at the International Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi. Her heaviest deadlift was 292 pounds.” I keep going and I never stop going,” Athenas told Eyewitness News. Although she has ADHD, bipolar disorder, and a mild intellectual delay, they haven’t limited her ability to be a standout in her sport.

“The best part about being involved with Special Olympics is to meet new friends and to prove that people with disabilities can do anything that we put our minds to do,” wrote Robert Moore, 27, an equestrian with autism from Tampa, Fla., who won a gold medal for dressage, a highly skilled form of riding. He has been going to the Special Olympics for 16 years. As a young child, he suffered from poor core strength and sat curled in a ball. Working with horses, which involves considerable core power, starting at age 5 changed that.

The Special Olympics offers many ways to get involved including short- and long-term volunteer opportunities, the option of playing unified sports, and becoming a Special Olympics athlete.

Learn more about how to get involved with Special Olympics:

Become an athlete

Become a volunteer

Become an official

 

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