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One of the many services provided through BCFR is Developmental Disability Education. This may take the form of a conference or workshop that is directly related to an individual’s specific developmental disability and/or their special care needs. This service is available to the person served and their primary caregiver(s) when compensation is not otherwise available from other sources.
Recently, the Missouri chapter of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (MOAAIDD) hosted their spring conference entitled “Beyond Guardianship: Supported Decision-Making by Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities” presented by Jonathan Martinis, Legal Director of Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities and the Project Director of the National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making. Jonathan spoke about using supported decision-making in lieu of guardianship. He suggested using supported decision-making in the areas of school/transition, Vocational Rehabilitation, and healthcare and life planning.
BCFR sent parents of two different persons served to the workshop to learn more. Christina, mother of Gavin who will soon be 18, said the information presented during the workshop was geared toward parents and caregivers. “Jonathan was an excellent speaker,” says Christina. “I like that he spoke from a place of experience – both personally and professionally. He addressed all of the audience’s questions in a professional way and provided me with the facts I needed to support the decisions my husband and I were considering for our son.”
Nancy, who was interested in securing guardianship for her adult son, Chris, also attended the workshop. “We had been talking about setting up guardianship for Chris, but I wanted to hear all the pros and cons. Jonathan’s presentation really made me re-think everything and introduced some new ideas that we hadn’t yet considered. For example, I didn’t know that guardianship would prevent Chris from being able to vote.”
“What really elevated the session for me is that Jonathan had all of us in the audience answer questions to see what our personal scenario would be,” says Christina. “Everyone had different answers from different perspectives. It was nice to have people engaged in this way and sharing information with each other.”
“This was the best conference I have been to in a long time,” says Nancy. “I definitely learned a lot about what guardianship means for the individual and it gave me a lot to think about.”
Some examples of other conferences individuals and family members have attended include: Inclusive Best Practices for Students with Down Syndrome, Auditory Processing Disorder Forum, Autism Conference, Power Up Conference to learn more about assistive technology devices, and People First of Missouri Conference to increase self-advocacy skills.
In addition to workshops and conferences, BCFR also provides other educational opportunities. Books and videos are available for loan to individuals and families. Information on specific developmental disabilities, community resources, and related topics are available through the resource files. Product catalogs and a number of newsletters are also available.