Voting: People With Intellectual Disabilities

By Ellen Hierl

We just completed national elections. Many of you exercised your right as a citizen to vote for the candidates of your choice.

But what about the people you support who have intellectual disabilities? Should they have the right to vote? Should their right to vote be limited based upon guardianship status or other measurements? If they do vote, how do we ensure they are not manipulated by people who support them?  Continue reading

I Can Do It!

By Connie Horn

Recently I watched as my grandson was interacting with his mom.  It was one of those mornings where everyone was rushing around trying to get ready for the day. My grandson was told to put his shoes on. He still struggles with putting his shoes on the right feet and it takes him a little longer than most, but he is learning. His mom didn’t think he was putting his shoes on fast enough, so she decided to put them on for him. He pulled them off, looked at her, and in a loud voice said, “I can do it!” Continue reading

Everyone Has Barriers to Learning – So What Do You Do?

By Ellen Hierl

Recently, the Bethesda Institute presented its first webinar, Teacher Growth Series: Who Are The Learners? Part 1. This webinar focused on assisting teachers in serving people with intellectual disabilities. For this first session, we addressed several common barriers to learning and how to teach when these barriers are present. As I prepared for my presentation on limited learning capacity it struck me again that I have much more in common with the people we support than I have differences. Continue reading

Beyond Social Capital – Civic Wellness and Personal Sustainability

By Albert Van Kleeck
Albert Van Kleeck Consulting

During the past several years I have dedicated a considerable amount of time to thinking about and developing different approaches to how we think about our lives and the lives of those we impact and support. I’ve thought about how moving through life one day to the next or from dawn to dusk could be so much easier and make much more sense for so many of us. And I’ve framed this thinking with the terms Civic Wellness and Personal Sustainability.

I haven’t yet come to a decision regarding which of these terms is the best fit for the concept. Perhaps either or both would work, maybe neither one. I’m open to suggestion and all contributions to a wider body of knowledge are always welcome. Continue reading

Look For The Meaning

By Connie Horn

I remember the day my daughter came home from school and announced she was “going out” with Brian. The conversation we had afterwards went something like this:

“Going out? Where are you going?”
“I thought you just said you were going out with Brian?”
“I am.”
“So where are you going?”
“Nowhere, I’m going out with him.”

Continue reading


By David Morstad

We talk a lot about community in this field, e.g., community living, community-based services, etc. But when it comes to a real sense of community, I think we would all agree that we have something more meaningful in mind. What does it take to build real community? Continue reading

Why Not Dick or Jane?

By Ellen Hierl

Client, consumer, resident, patient, individual…all of these are labels. Why is it that we feel compelled to use labels to describe the people we support? Why not just use the person’s name? It seems pretty easy to use names. Don’t we do that with each other all the time? Well, frankly, no we don’t.  Continue reading

Regulating Independence

By Connie Horn

According to the Wisconsin Community Based Residential Care (CBRF) fire safety requirements under DHS 83. 47 2 (d) fire drills, fire evacuations drills shall be conducted at least quarterly with both employees and people supported. Fire drills are a common occurrence in most homes because of the regulations they fall under.

I was working at a home, and we had just finished lunch. After lunch, everyone was busy clearing the table, putting dishes in the dishwasher and in general, cleaning up. I decided this was a great opportunity for a fire drill, so I pulled the alarm. Everyone stopped what they were doing.  They quickly exited the house and went to the meeting place.

Anyway, that is what I thought! Continue reading

Christmas Memories

By Ellen Hierl

Fall is absolutely my favorite time of year.  I love grabbing a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and heading outside to enjoy a brisk Wisconsin day.  I think part of the reason I so enjoy fall is that it has so many pleasant memories for me.  Many of those memories are attached to my father.

As a young child I would tag along with him through the fall fields, a dog leading the way as we went bird hunting (I had a toy gun in that picture) or I’d hang out on the farm as he helped bring in the crops.  As I got older, I’d spend time deer hunting with him during the fall. Even his birthday occurs in the fall.

But since my Dad has passed away, I also find fall to bring some sadness with it.

I miss those times spent together with him and they are so linked to this time of year. Continue reading

Managed Care for Adults with Disabilities

By Cathy Ficker Terrill

The states currently looking at managed care for community long term care for the DD population as a pilot are Vermont, Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin. These states do not plan to use commercial health management organizations (HMO’s) to act as the managed care organization (MCO).

In Arizona and Vermont a state agency functions as the MCO. In Michigan and Wisconsin, the states purchase Medicaid long term care through risk based contracts with local MCO’s, formed largely from existing local service delivery systems. Continue reading