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The Team at ALSO

May 29, 2024

Top Support Tools and Strategies Provided by ALSO to Promote Independence

ALSO is an Oregon provider of disability support services for people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Our mission is to promote the full inclusion of people experiencing disabilities in the life of their community. This means independence, equal access, and opportunity in all aspects of community living.

Why is Independence Important for People with Disabilities?

To answer this question, let’s take a look in the mirror…”Why is independence important to you?”

Independence allows you to do all kinds of things that you might take for granted:

  1. Work in a career you love.
  2. Rent or purchase a home.
  3. Have fun with friends.
  4. Achieve academic success.
  5. Sit on your front porch and ponder life.

Without independence, we lose our sense of self-worth and belonging. For people with disabilities, it is the same. Furthermore, when community members with a disability do have independence, it allows them to live as full members of society, and to have autonomy, pride, confidence, and control over their lives.


Top Support Tools and Strategies from ALSO that Promote Independence

So, how does ALSO facilitate independence and equal opportunity for those we support? A common thread throughout all programming is Person-Centered Planning (PCP). This allows ALSO direct support professionals (DSPs) to address the specifics of the person’s strengths, goals, and needs (as well as related medical conditions). This, in turn, establishes individualized programming and coordination of disability resources.

Let’s hear directly from ALSO DSPs and specialists about our best practices in disability services for people with I/DD. Keep in mind that many tools and strategies we use may overlap, because we offer comprehensive person-centered services.

Residential Services

ALSO Direct support professional Paul.

Paul Dahbour, Associate Director

Paul has found that continuous training is a strategy that works best for individuals with I/DD in ALSO’s residential services program. Team members and the person supported meet regularly to find out processes that are working, as well as things that need improvement.

A great example of a training tool is a picture board that the team used to support an individual in weekly routines, appointments, and budget. It created opportunities to develop increased independence in finances and other responsibilities.

Supported Living Services

ALSO Direct support professional Jackie.

Jackie Armbruster, Supported Living Manager

Jackie and her team collaborate to target any training needs, appropriate accommodations, or technical assistance needed to increase independence at home and in the community, such as:

  • Self-care and safety training
  • Exploring housing options
  • Using public transportation and/or department vehicles
  • Volunteering or getting a job in the community

Children’s Services

ALSO Direct support professional Tanja Garrot.

Tanja Garrot, Associate Director

Consistency, stability, and security are key to success in ALSO’s children’s services. Tanja has found that visual aids really help kids to move forward in their journey towards greater independence. Some visual aids include:

  • Calendars
  • Schedules
  • Visual stories

DSPs are excellent at creating the optimum learning environment in the home setting, as well as working with teachers and other professionals in advocating for appropriate academic accommodations.

Supported Employment Services

Chaz Volavka, Employment Services Director for ALSO.

Chaz Volavka, Employment Services Director

Chaz works to help the person supported create a road map for achieving long-term goals towards competitive employment. Often, this begins with vocational rehabilitation services. The team becomes closely attuned to the person’s learning capacities, strengths, and needs.

Examples of guidance, training, and support include:

  • Applying for jobs
  • Making reasonable accommodation requests
  • Interacting with peers and supervisors

We’re also accustomed to introducing various forms of technical assistance to help employees with I/DD in completing tasks. Examples of these are:

  • Software programs that provide additional training.
  • Assistive technology that helps compensate for visual impairments, physical disabilities, and other challenges

LEARN MORE: Assistive Technology in the Workplace

ALSO Arts Program

Chaz Volavka, Employment Services Director

Our amazing arts program, located in Troutdale, is a flagship model on what happens when you bring together the arts, people with I/DD, and a supportive community. Programming includes:

  • 1:1 arts instruction.
  • Tools that target accessibility needs, such as specially designed tables that accommodate wheelchairs.
  • Technology that allows those with physical disabilities to create art. An example would be someone with cerebral palsy who needs assistance with steadying their hand in order to paint or write.

We’re proud to say that some of our artists have been successfully selling their own art!

The Big Picture: How ALSO Encourages Independence

Our dedication to promoting independence is integral to the ALSO Mission of full inclusion of people experiencing disabilities in the life of their communities.

As Paul Dahbour states, “…asking people what’s important to them, what they want more independence in…[then we] keep discussing how we can make this happen.” Then, the team moves forward with the following tools and strategies:

  • Person-centered planning
  • Assistive technology
  • Advocating for appropriate accommodations
  • Coordination and implementation of services
  • Continuous training and skill building

Throughout every stage of the independence journey, we provide plenty of emotional support, guidance, and of course…celebration! Learn more about ALSO specialized services and disability support options throughout Oregon.


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