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

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