Helping People With Loss

Friday, October 13, 2017 from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Presented by: Donna Dorsey


Come discuss and learn about helping your loved one (or yourself) through grief and loss.  We will talk about anticipatory "pre" grief, current losses and recovery.  The seminar is participatory and will also include helpful stress management techniques.



Home, Housing and Community Opportunities

Thursday, November 2, 2017 from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Presented by: Anne Murphy, LMSW, Director of Housing and Development


Anne Murphy, Wildwood Programs Director of Home and Housing Development, will discuss the types of residential and home supports available, how to access services through the “Front Door”, and the new continuum of services that are available through OPWDD, which range from traditional agency-led supports to self-directed supports. Information will be provided on the benefits of partnership between family, individual and service provider and the advantages of a Circle of Support. Anne is well versed in environmental modifications and assistive technology and can offer suggestions about securing funding and practical uses of technology in the home. Please contact Anne Murphy at if you have specific topics that you’d like her to address during this workshop.





The Transitional Spectrum for Children

Friday, November 17, 2017 from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Presented by: Scott Iovinella and John Clausson


During this workshop you will be provided with a general overview of service transition throughout school, options after graduation, the current state of OPWDD and what you can be doing NOW to prepare your son or daughter for their life after graduation.  It is NEVER too early to gather information and learn about these services.  Parents and guardians of children in all age ranges are encouraged to attend.

* Please note that for this workshop we will only have 5 openings for staff members: Parent/Guardian presence is strongly encouraged.



Tantrums, Tears, and Timeout: Helping Your Child with ASD Overcome Challenging Behavior

Thursday, November 30, 2017 from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Presented by: Dr. Kristen Knapp-Ines, Clinical Investigator from The Center of Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD)


This two-hour training addresses ways to define your child’s challenging behavior and ways to track that behavior. You will also learn about user-friendly tools that help determine the function of behavior along with strategies based on that function. Emphasis will be placed on evidence-based strategies that can be implemented in the home environment.



Vocational Opportunities

Friday, December 1, 2017 from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Presented by Jennifer DeCosmo, Director of Pre-Vocational Services


Do you want to learn more about employment services for adults with disabilities?

Please join us to discuss the different services offered by both OPWDD and ACCES-VR. You will learn how to apply to these services, the requirements needed, and the types of services available. Learn how these services can help you or your family member find employment.










All workshops will take place at:


Wildwood Programs, 1190 Troy-Schenectady Road, Building 1, Latham, NY 12110. The trainings will be held in the conference rooms on the third floor.


Light refreshments will be served!


To Register – call (518) 640-3300


For questions only, please contact Michelle Singh at (518) 640-3350


         I am the communications director for an organization that provides supports for people with disabilities. One of the biggest challenges to my communication work is referring to the people we support in the written and spoken word. Many of my efforts are directed to the general public—not people who work in the same field I do—and the vocabulary of our field often leaves them confused.


         Over the years, as most of you are aware, there have been different terms used to describe the people who receive supports from our organization. Many, many years ago, words that were initially used as descriptive terms came to be seen as hurtful and disrespectful. Most people are surprised to hear that terms like “Feeble-minded,” “Moron,” and “Idiot,” were not vocabulary designed for insults but to describe people with disabilities. Later “Mental Retardation,” was used clinically and from that the shortened and derisive term “retard” originated. 


       The term “Client” evolved as a more respectful choice and was later replaced with the term “Consumer.” Consumer was preferred because a “consumer” chooses services and supports and therefore it was believed it connoted power and respect. Over time, some would argue that the term “consumer” merely became yet another label.


        The term “Developmental Disability” is preferred by many, but in 2013, the Social Security Administration officially replaced that with “Intellectual Disability.” Many argue that “Intellectual Disability” is unclear because by definition it would apply to people with Alzheimers Disease, Mental Illness and Traumatic Brian Injuries.

What is a Direct Support Professional? What is a DSP? What is #DSPStrong all about?

The formal definition is easy. A direct support professional is a human service professional who provides supports to people with disabilities so that they can maximize their independence, productivity and fulfillment in life.

Nice language, right? But what really IS a DSP?

If you don't have a child with a disability, I'd like you to think for a moment what it would be like. Think of what you'd worry about. Would it be your child's safety? Would it be your child's future? Would it be your child's happiness and sense of fulfillment? Would it be your own fears about whether you could cope?

I suspect it would be all of those things. The other thing to consider is that people don't grow out of developmental disabilities and autism. They are for life. So part of your fears as a parent would be the constant worry about what will happen to your child when you are gone.

And if you were a person with a disability, what would you worry about? Would it be your safety? Would it be who would be there for you? Would it be your future? I suspect it would be all of these things.

Direct Support Professionals are the people we entrust with the care of individuals with disabilities. Whether it is a young child or an adult, DSPs support people as they navigate life with a disability. Sometimes, particularly in residential settings, that's 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Sometimes it means being with someone with challenging behavioral issues, sometimes it means being with someone with constant obsessive thoughts or fears and often it means taking care of someone with hygiene and toileting issues.

It is a demanding position. It is a position that pays less than fast food jobs.

I mean no disrespect for people who work in the fast food industry, but DSPs are responsible for individuals LIVES all day long.

For this chosen career they make about $10.50 an hour.

It takes commitment. It takes dedication. It takes patience. Above all, it takes strength, the kind of internal strength that is powered by caring for others.

Next week we celebrate our DSPs and with everything we are doing in that celebration we are including #DSPStrong to note what we think of these professionals. Please join us in supporting the people who have committed to this work in their life. And please join us in supporting funding to increase their salaries to livable wages.



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