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Transcript of JoCo on the Go podcast 07/01/2020

Announcer [00:00:01] Whether you live in or just love Johnson County, Kansas, JoCo on the Go has everything Johnson County. Here's what's happening and what's coming up in the community you call home.

Theresa Freed [00:00:13] Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go. I'm your host, Theresa Freed a Johnson County resident and employee of Johnson County Government. Flattening the curve and stopping the spread of COVID-19 is a top priority. County and state leaders have taken a number of steps to do that, including recommendations to increase physical distance. Today, we're talking with Johnson County Developmental Supports experts who are going to share how the pandemic has impacted those they serve and also the work they do in a slightly different forma today, I'd like to introduce you to Mandy Flower. She's the Johnson County CDDO director. She's going to lead a conversation among her colleagues on this topic. So, Mandy, thanks for hosting and also sharing with our listeners how you're serving individuals in new and interesting ways.

Mandy Flower [00:00:56] The Johnson County CDDO is the single point of entry for I/DD services in Johnson County. This means that we are the designated area from the state to help coordinate services and supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This includes providing a single point of entry into the I/DD waiver services. That's something that you've may have heard of before. And we're going to talk more about that today. We are going to discuss I/DD services as well as the the situations families are facing with their children at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools were let out, early day programs shut down. So you or a loved one might be providing more care to your child with an I/DD than you typically do. We have several professionals here with us today. I will go ahead and turn it over to Seth Kilber, our eligibility determination specialist.

Seth Kilber [00:02:02] Yeah, hi, I'm Seth Kilber. I do eligibility determinations, as Mandy said, I've been in the field, I think, for about close to nine years now. You know, just kind of stumbled into it. And here I am and I'm enjoying what I'm doing. You know, part of my job and my role right now at the CDDO is determining eligibility. And that includes really two components to the eligibility. The first component is making sure somebody who is entering our services has an intellectual or developmental disability that that includes, you know, kind of a wide and broad spectrum of conditions. You know, we've got, you know, kind of the ones everybody knows and has heard of, you know, things like autism, Down syndrome, epilepsy. But then there are a lot of different chromosomal abnormalities and things of that nature. And then and then when we're talking about an intellectual disability, that is, you know, something that's that's usually determined through kind of an intensive psych psychological evaluation done by a professional formerly known as mental retardation. However, we don't use that language anymore. So the the new the new language is definitely intellectual disability. So that's kind of what I do. I'm the one reviewing that stuff and kind of walking people through the initial steps of the process and hopefully getting them hooked up with services at some point in the future.

Mandy Flower [00:03:53] We also have with us today members of our community behavioral health team. So I'm going to turn it over to Carla.

Carla Sadler [00:03:59] Hi, my name's Carla Sadler and I'm a supervisor for the Community Behavioral Health Team. And we call ourselves the CBH team, but we're a cross-functional team that writes positive behavior supports to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who also have a co-occurring mental health diagnosis. We have three behavioral health specialists on our team that provide mental health case management services. We work one on one with the individual in their circles of support and we help identify, secure as well as sustained resources needed to attend school or work depending on their age. And just to help them participate in their community, we address mental health and developmental barriers that interfere with daily living. We help teach coping skills and increase social skills and coping skills, as well as increased social skills needed to develop those healthy relationships. When, as I mentioned before, we work with individuals across the lifespan. To be served by our team, individuals need to live in Johnson County and be at least five years of age, as well as qualified for those I/DD services through the CDDO that Seth just talked about. The individuals that we work with also have a co-occurring mental health diagnosis and qualify for the treatment for treatment through the Johnson County Mental Health Center. And that's just a little bit about our team. But also with me today is Ashley Martin, and she's one of our behavioral health specialists. I'll turn it over to her.

Ashley Martin [00:05:26] Hello, everyone. So basically, Carla hit it, hit it pretty spot-on right there with the description of what our team doesn't really vary from individual to individual based off their needs. And what we do. So with some individuals that might look like working closely with the families and helping them identify a structure and routine in the home. With another individual it might be developing and utilizing PBS plan to address problematic behaviors. And then sometimes it's teaching social skills or independent living skills or coping skills to assist individuals with being successful in the community. So, yeah, wide range of things and it can look very different.

Mandy Flower [00:06:10] So from my experience, families, parents that have a child with an I/DD diagnosis, you know, there are struggles with having a child and then there are struggles with having an child with a diagnosis of an intellectual or developmental disability. So when school was abruptly canceled, day programs shut down due to COVID, parents took on more of a 24 hour role in providing services to, quote, unquote, services to their family member. So I was just wondering, Seth Ashley, what how would you guys see the COVID-19 affect families in our community?

Ashley Martin [00:06:56] Oh, it's definitely had a huge impact. I think that a lot of our individuals that we serve the need for structure and routine is so important. And with school being canceled and all these activities being canceled, structure and routine are no longer there. So that's been very difficult for families to adjust to. And then you have families that now have their kiddo home 24/7. So that's been a huge adjustment for everybody. So it's definitely had an impact. And we've just been working a lot with families on trying to be creative in establishing routine and structure and just trying to avoid control battles and trying to address behaviors in the most positive way that they can. But we've definitely seen a huge impact for sure.

Mandy Flower [00:07:46] What what kind of examples do you use when you work with families on, like the control battles and things like that? What are some ways that you guys have addressed them?

Ashley Martin [00:07:57] So I think it's so easy to kind of fall into kind of being I mean, I'm a parent, so I know it can be kind of easy to fall into when a kiddo is doing something that you don't like. You kind of first think of like consequences and this is what's going to happen if, you know, you do that. So we're really trying to work with parents on let's try to figure out how we can address this in a positive way. Let's look at environmental changes. We have to kind of look past the behavior and see, you know, what's the underlying cause of the behavior and behavior is a form of communication. So working with parents and understanding that, I know I have an individual who he would associate hygiene and school together. So he had what he knew school time was hygiene time was meant school came afterwards. So he when school stopped, he stopped doing his hygiene routine because, you know, that was what the routine was, was I'm going to bathe, and then I'm going to go to school. So when that stopped, you know, Mom was really understandably frustrated by that. So we just kind of looked at ways that we can be creative and try to encourage him in the most positive way. So we talked about like bath bombs and fun soaps and things like that. And she went and ordered some bath bombs. And sure enough, it really helped. So she addressed it in a really positive way. It was really creative. And I think just looking at things kind of outside of the outside the box and trying to be as creative as you can has definitely been the advice that we've been giving a lot of families during this time.

Mandy Flower [00:09:40] It almost sounds like if we look at some of these children's interests and what they prefer and try to build structure and schedules around that, that may be something that could help with all of this time at home.

Carla Sadler [00:09:55] Yeah, I agree. I encourage staff to create reinforcement inventories, is what I call it. And that's where you come up with a menu of different things that could be reinforcing to them in an individual based on their interests. Because what's reinforcing today may not be tomorrow, but it might be again down the road. And so we need to have a tool box of things to use to help motivate the individuals we're working with.

Mandy Flower [00:10:21] Seth, have you seen, you know, our team at the CDO? There is a process called the crisis process. And that is, you know, if someone is by definition of Kansas, a threat to themselves or a threat to others imminently, they can apply for what is called a crisis request and that would bring in services due to that serious situation that's going on in the home. We would like to get people at the CDDO on the waiting list before that type of situation happens. So our goal is to get people who have family members with an I/DD diagnosis aware of the CDO and what we do in the eligibility process. Seth, I'm just curious if you've seen an uptick in eligibility request since COVID and if not, what could family members do if they have someone that they think might qualify for the waiver?

Seth Kilber [00:11:25] You know, it dipped down there slow for a little bit. I think everyone, you know, when when things kind of first hit the fan a little bit there, people were really in survival mode and routines just completely disrupted. And so if if people were in the process of applying here, everything just kind of got put on pause. But over the last month or six weeks or so, I'd say things have started to really uptick. And, you know, on the one hand, for me, it's it's like it was great. I was able to catch up on some of these on these ones that I got backlogged. But on the other hand, like, you know, these families are still out there. And then they need these services and these supports. And so, you know, that's that's sort of the stuff that kind of keeps you up at night sometimes just knowing how many how many families are out there that need help. And just because something comes along that maybe lightens my workload a little bit, I'm knowing that that that people, you know, are kind of just trying to stay afloat and just keep their heads above water. And so I'm happy that that it's kind of starting to pick up again and people are kind of able to get the stuff in and then get on the waiting list and hopefully avoid, you know, a crisis situation, you know, down the road. And, you know, I think crisis is a bit of a misnomer, a little bit. People hear about it and, you know, think maybe this turnaround time might be in a few days or whatever, like, oh, I got a son or daughter who is really getting in trouble with the police. I'll get them in the CDDO and we'll get we'll get help kind of, you know, right away. Unfortunately, being in in the social services system and there are there is some bureaucratic nature to it all. It does take a little bit of time for everything to get put in place. So crisis is not necessarily a quick turnaround. The crisis process is in a quick turnaround time, I should say. And so I think some people hearing that, you know, a little bit let down there.

Mandy Flower [00:13:51] For sure, it takes a little bit of time for, you know, the threat could be right there and imminent. But unfortunately, it still takes a few days for that to be processed and vetted.

Seth Kilber [00:14:02] Well, not even a few days. Sometimes you're talking somebody who just getting then to the system, maybe coming in through eligibility. You know, there's there's quite a bit of hoops that need to be jumped through. You know, we've got to determine the the system eligibility, then the functional eligibility. Then they got to choose a target case manager who meets with them. And they and they helped write the request. And then that goes to the state. And the state has 10 days to turn around and and do that and then that they're talking about the insurance company that pays out. So this is when you really look at it. And I know on the the front facing side of things, the families are just like, we need help now. And so we're we're very sensitive to that and trying to work as quickly as we can to make sure that the process goes as fast as possible. But, yeah, there are there are these boxes and these hoops that need to be jumped through. And so that's why, you know, we're kind of out here now wanting to get people, ushering them in and through our services and through with a single point of entry for I/DD services and systems so that when something like this does happen, you've kind of made it through, you know, a large chunk of that process already.

Mandy Flower [00:15:16] If I'm a parent at home and my my child was in special ed classes and now they're at home with me and we haven't talked to the CDDO yet, what would you recommend to that family?

Seth Kilber [00:15:29] There seems to be two different camps. People fall into that. And then I find myself I'm either really trying to to provide a little bit of a sales pitch as to why, you know, our services may be beneficial. You know, sometimes you can you can get on the waiting list as early as five. The waiting list is. It's probably going to surpass nine years. I would guess, and may go even up beyond that. And so a lot of families, you know, well, if you've got a five year old and you're watching them, you may not think you need services or help right now. You may have everything under control, but things can change really, really fast, and especially when you're talking about waiting nine years. That's just a long time, you know, especially if you are in survival mode right now. You know, it's hard it's hard to think in advance when you know your five year olds out of high school. And what are they going to do after that? What kind of the possibilities are there? So. So on the one hand, there's really trying to convince people that these services are, you know, can be a great thing and wonderful thing for for their loved one's life. And then other people who who are maybe exasperated and frustrated at everything, they're they're burnt out, whatever it is. And they and they you know, they're wanting services now that in that respect, it's a little bit of a tempering of expectations. No, we're not miracle workers. These services don't don't just all of sudden make somebody a fully functioning member of society and they won't have any behavioral issues or, you know, money issues or they're gonna be able to have an employable job, you know, for the rest of their lives. So it's it's a little bit it's somewhere in between. So if somebody is seeking services, you know, I'd say just give us a call, start the process. We'll do an intake. It's really painless we send you out the paperwork. You know, there's there's a checklist of things that we need. And, you know, you send them back in and we'll work with it. And I, I try to make it as personal as possible for that individual. I don't want people thinking they're just sending something off to some office somewhere. And, you know, they don't know what happens after that. You know, I really try to think of the families and the hardships that they may be facing and really work with them in that way.

Mandy Flower [00:18:07] And I think that's great, too, because, you know, a lot of times, especially during crises like this, it's it's hard to think about the paperwork you need to do and things like that and I would encourage families to if they have time to look at the CDDO website, we have a link for resources for families on that Web site. You can also reach out to us via the link to e-mail us or you can call the CDDO if family members on the waiting list need cloth masks. We have some available. We just have a plethora of resources and all that CDD website site you can also learn more about the process because these services that we talk about are about ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to live in the home and community of their choice, just like everyone else does. It's an assurance to give people the support they need to live as independently as possible where they want. So what our life looks like at ten, fifteen may be much different at 30. So as Seth said, it's important to get on that waiting list because the funding is about eight could be a nine year wait, as Seth had mentioned. So you can have those options available. Our CDDO website has lots of resources right now that could assist you with what's going on today while you're at home during this pandemic with your child and your loved ones. One other thing the CDO does is we work with the agencies that provide services so people and what we term people in service. So these are people that are living in a group home or a day program. They go to a day program. We at the beginning of the COVID-19 to ensure safety, many of our day programs temporarily closed and people were receiving day program from home. And, you know, as the pandemic has been very hard for myself and people around me, it's very hard for our people and services as well, because that change in structure, schedule. All of that stuff is very hard on people. So I also know, Seth, that there were also some changes with employment for people.

Seth Kilber [00:20:44] Yeah. I mean, unless you're living under a rock, you're probably aware of kind of how the tension between, you know, dealing with this pandemic and the economy and how, you know, millions of people have been out of work now for, you know, months. And it looks like, you know, this we may be in kind of a little bit of a downturn for the long haul. You know, people in our services work, you know, want to have jobs, want to earn money and do things just like everyone else does. And a lot of the jobs that they hold there, they're working at grocery stores. They're working at movie theaters. They're working in restaurants. A lot of these places that that have been hard hit by this pandemic and these closures that we've dealt with, you know, and all the sudden, you know, they're out of work. And you're talking about a population that historically has has already been very marginalized in, you know, not not necessarily fully included within their communities. You know, employment is one of those ways that people do feel included and in touch with with their community. And now we're out of work. We're not working like we used to. That's going to take more than just a financial toll, I think, on people's well-being. You know? I don't know. It's just it's just a very hard thing to deal with. There are no easy answers here. You know part of of our services include things like supported employment. There are some other kind of corollary services with vocational rehabilitation services who also help on competitive employment. You know, I think it'll be a long time until we truly see some of the detrimental impacts that people have dealt with.

Mandy Flower [00:22:52] Carla and Ashley, what what's your experience then with folks, you know, going from day program or they were working and now they're there at home 24 hours a day with roommates?What what's your experiences?

Ashley Martin [00:23:06] We definitely I would say our team has definitely seen an increase in social isolation, a lot more frustration, boredom. You know, a lot of times the day service and employment services are a sense of purpose. They provide a sense of purpose for the individuals that we work with. So when you don't have that, that can really affect your mental well-being. So we've been trying to work pretty closely with providers and caregivers on identifying new ways that they can feel good and feel like they're being productive. And, you know, I have we do have some good caregivers and providers out there who are doing really well at this. I have an individual who I know he's no longer going to day service, and it was really had a negative impact on his mood. And he started doing something that I would have never even thought him to want to do. Staff started working with him on gardening and planting. And so now when we talk, he's telling me about ground coffee as fertilizer and eggshells and all of this all of these really cool facts. So I just think it's really, really cool that, you know, a lot of staff out there are trying to assist with, you know, recognizing that not having that day service, not having that sense of purpose can really affect you. So what else can we do to make you feel good and make you want to get up in the mornings and want to engage in activities? And, you know, it's been we have been really working with providers on trying to identify a lot of these activities and being creative for sure.

Mandy Flower [00:24:41] Absollutely, and that brings up a really good point with our providers. We have what's called direct service professionals who have been working with our people in group homes 24 hours a day since this pandemic started, while many of us, quote unquote, shut down and started working from home and dealt with those frustrations and worries. We've had direct support professionals going into group homes to provide not only care for people to make sure that they're safe and that they're eating and they're taking their meds, but also helping them deal with these frustrations, dealing with the boredom and dealing with all the things that we're struggling with. And, you know, our DSPs are wonderful folks. They also have families at home and they have a calling to do this. And we want to take a minute and commend them. And they have such an integral role in ensuring that the people we we work with have a life of their choosing that's full of dignity and respect. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have done a great job of keeping people calm and keeping people entertained and connected. Because I know just reading the news, you can see a lot about how people are losing that connectedness. So, you know, there's been a lot of great examples of that by our direct care professionals throughout Johnson County. This has been a very difficult and tough time. There are a lot of people going above and beyond to make there be a silver lining for a lot of folks. And we're very fortunate here in Johnson County to work with these these great people and these direct support professionals and businesses that are really stepping up and finding creative ways to try and keep keep things going and keep keeping people calm. And, you know, having some value in their life during these really difficult times. Carla and Ashley, how about you guys? Any experiences you've had people going above and beyond that you've seen that have been effective?

Carla Sadler [00:27:02] In general terms, I do think another part of a role that I think some of the staff have really done a great job in and I don't necessarily have specific examples, is just helping the folks that we serve keep in touch with family members because it's been a challenge for anyone to stay in contact with family. But the individuals that we serve are often dependent upon others to help them access the technology or how to or to use it to be able to visit their family members. And that's just such an important piece of this whole puzzle, is being able to maintain those personal relationships. I think some staff are really being creative and doing a great job. I've heard of visits out in parking lots where people stay in their cars, that sort of stuff. But, you know, that's it's just an important piece.

Ashley Martin [00:27:48] I agree. I think it's great. A lot of our providers are keeping in touch with the circle of supports and just bouncing ideas off of each other and asking for some advice and direction. Even this morning, I had someone reach out to me about an individual just asking about some different ideas that he had and if if he felt like that would help the individual be successful or motivated to participate in activities, so I think that that's been huge.

Mandy Flower [00:28:19] Absolutely. Now, Seth, if I was to contact the CDDO and fill out my paperwork, how long do you think that timeline would be until I hear something like if I'm accepted? How does that work?

Seth Kilber [00:28:37] You know, it kind of depends. A large part of that is you call us and we send you out at what we call an intake packet and a letter that just details the entire process and the checklist of documents that will be required from you. You know, things like a copy of the birth certificate to the Social Security card, kind of the standard stuff there. But but really, the most important document is the very nation that the individual has a diagnosis of an intellectual or developmental disability. So that that includes, you know, something signed by the doctor or by the professional who made the diagnosis. Without that, I can't really I can't really move forward with the eligibility before that. That's really a state and federal guidelines right there. So however quickly those documents get to me. I try to move move as as fast as possible when people send in stuff. I'll I'll take it. I'll take a real quick look at it. If it looks like everything's there, I'll let you know I got it. I know how stressful that is sometimes to send something off into the ether, so to speak. And then you're not sure if anyone's just looked at it or if it's been received or where it is. And then you're kind of sitting there twiddling your thumbs. So I was always let people know if I've got it, what I'm waiting on or, you know, where kind of the process stands. And then I'll let people know how much longer it'll take till the next step of the process. A lot of times we'll get people who contact us and and, you know, we don't hear anything back. You know, just because life life kind of hits you and, you know, whatever else happens and they think and they maybe they call us a few years later and they think they're on the waiting list. Hey, where are we on this process? And it's and it's always gut wrenching to have to say, well, the process was never completed. So if you're on the waiting list, you will know it. It's not something where you're just it's not as simple as just contacting us and letting us know you've got a loved one with an intellectual or developmental disability. And we put them on the waiting list. So it's a little bit more involved than that. So so you will know when you've kind of completed the process.

Mandy Flower [00:31:08] You know, if I don't want to leave my house. It's really, you know, my child's medically fragile. Is there any way that we can do the meeting through Zoom for the eligibility? How's that work?

Seth Kilber [00:31:21] Yeah. Yes. We all love Zoom. We're all talking on Zoom right now. And I think we're all we're all well versed in all of its intricacies here. You know, before we were able to be really accommodating, I was able to come out to people's homes if if they preferred that or, you know, some people don't like strangers in their house. So, you know, they were always welcome to come come to our office. However, with with new guidelines and things of that nature out, we are now offering online teleconference meetings, which is a little bit different. You know, thankfully the state who we kind of answer to has been pretty accommodating in allowing us to, you know, complete this in a way that allows people to stay as safe as possible. So a component of that is is doing meetings. We assume, however, you know, things things are starting to loosen up a bit. So if people prefer we are allowing eligibility meetings to take place here in our office, socially distanced, of course, you know, masks being worn and all that stuff. It's it's really just up to the families and the individuals with with whatever they're they're most comfortable with. So I don't I don't want to force someone into because there are people who are not very tech friendly and and that's that's not a problem either. So we need to do it in person. We still kind of have that option for the time being. You know, we don't know where things are going to go in the future, but it's worked out well. And I think most people have responded positively to the Zoom meetings. If we get if we get one meeting without some sort of technical difficulty, that's that's a little bit of a small miracle. But we've managed to at least I've managed to to kind of complete this process relatively seamlessly.

Mandy Flower [00:33:37] The eligibility process is it takes a while. And families, families are going through a challenging time now. CBHT team, you know, you have some examples or some thoughts for them to navigate these difficult times. I saw where, you know, some of the pools are not opening up. You know, some of those typical things that kids do during the summer aren't going to be there after they just have this kind of break from school. So what what thoughts, ideas, suggestions do you guys have? I know it's it's hard enough for people with kids that do not have an I/DD So now we have children. You might have several kids at home, one that doesn't have I/DD. And another one that does so what are your thoughts, suggestions, ideas for those families who, you know, aren't able to access services yet?

Ashley Martin [00:34:34] I feel like there's so many virtual activities right now. I think that we've joked this past week that our Google searches probably look really funny as we're like searching for virtual activities based off of our clients into our individual's interests. But like, for instance, I had an individual that I was I worked with that when the KOVA 19 started, I was like, how am I going to how am I going to make this work? When am I going to do. How am I going to tie it to mental health needs? He really likes donkeys. As silly and as awesome as that sounds, I looked for donkey activities to do virtually and I found like a virtual donkey farm. And so I used Zoom and shared my screen and showed him the donkey farm. And he thought it was really, really awesome. And we tied it into, you know, mental health by talking about how he feels when he watches it and if he's feeling kind of upset or sad, that is something that he could do. There's tons of games. There's tons of other. I know I had one appointment with someone who was just really frustrated. I had started the meeting thinking that working at work on one thing. And he was just way too frustrated and he was just venting about being overwhelmed and just tired of being at home. So I was like, OK, well, let's let's talk about what you're looking forward to. And I, you know, utilize the share screen on Zoom. And we did a collage of things he's looking forward to, like Chinese buffet and going to Wal-Mart and going to Chuck E. Cheese. And I sent it to Mom and she printed it off and hung it on the fridge. So those are that's something that he can look at and know that he is looking forward to doing that. So definitely there's so many so, so many virtual activities out there that can be utilized. Lots of, I think, museums, zoos. There's even cooking lesson. Yes. Cooking lessons.

Carla Sadler [00:36:40] There is also one of our other behavior specialists mentioned yoga that's tied to movies. And I guess you can during certain parts of the movie, you do poses that coincide with that scene in the movie. And so that's been used as a coping strategy for someone.

Ashley Martin [00:36:57] I had another family that the individual was just the kiddo was just really tired of being at home and so parents are a great resource for us also because they have creative ideas, too. So one of the parents put together a scavenger hunt for outside. So, like looking for a construction worker, looking for a stop sign, looking for different signs or things out in the community. And they went and she, you know, made a checklist and they went out into the community and did a scavenger hunt that way.

Carla Sadler [00:37:27] So helping families come up with conversation starters to help steer conversations in a positive way. It might be from a fun game of would you rather during mealtimes to predetermined topics to kind of keep the focus in a positive way during a difficult task or during a meal.

Ashley Martin [00:37:45] Yeah. Like we call them dinner conversation cards. So just certain questions that can be. Everybody can talk about at dinner. Just to kind of help shift the focus from, you know, what's going on and all the stressors right now to do good and positive. So there might be questions like if you could be any superhero, what would you be? But, you know, those can really help change the mood and shift focus to positivity, which is which is good.

Mandy Flower [00:38:15] That's great. Now, I don't have any children, so listening and putting my myself in, you guys or you guys have children, but putting myself in those shoes to think about being a parent, I would be exhausted. And I know when I get exhausted, I get frustrated and I may lash out things like that. So, you know, we've been talking about kids at home. What about the parents who are, you know, working and then coming home and taking their child or, you know, taking time off because they need to be home with their child? What are what are some resources available for our parents who went from, you know, having their kids at school from 8 to 3 and maybe after school programs to now it's summer. It's summer time every day.

Ashley Martin [00:39:09] Well, I would say something that we talk to parents a lot about is self care and how important it is to take care of yourself so that you can be there 100 percent, you know, available for your kiddo. If you're not 100 percent, then you can't be there 100 percent for them. So we talk about all kinds of self care strategies with parents, and it looks different for each parent. For one parent, it might be going for a walk at night, scheduling me time, just taking a bubble bath might be something that a parent can do. We also I talk to families with two parents in the house about maybe having a code word or a signal or something. That means, OK, it's your turn. I'm tapping out. It's your turn. You're in. You know, when you're feeling alone, when you're feeling a little bit overwhelmed or frustrated. I had parents that have even gone to a hotel for one night because that's what they felt they needed. And it helped and it was awesome. So, yes, self care is going to look different for each family and each parent. But it's so important and we can't stress that enough. I feel like we talk to parents about that pretty often during this time, for sure. Yes, therapy resources, providing therapy resources to them. You know, sometimes they need to talk too.

Carla Sadler [00:40:35] If anybody does feel like they need therapy services, Johnson County Mental Health does do intake where they can be assessed for services. And if they don't qualify for there, then they'll give them community resources to access. If anyone ever feels like they're in a crisis situation in regards to mental health or mental health, they can call them mental health crisis line at Johnson County. And that's the number is 913-268-0156.

Mandy Flower [00:41:03] That's good information because, you know. This this is this coronavirus is causing such a anxiety and things that oftentimes many of us don't really think about and we already have a stigma surrounding mental health or a stigma around, you know, you can't take the pressure, things like that. And I think being able to have that open and honest dialog about how things are affecting us helps us in the long run and understanding that there isn't so much of a stigma that we're we're all kind of going through this. And it's affecting us all in different ways. And, you know, to be a parent, you know, with all of the different kind of bombs for for lack of a better word being thrown at you right now, this is a very difficult time for parents. And I think, you know, that mental health resource, Johnson County Mental Health is a great resource to reach out to as well as you know, there's other resources for families. Kansas Leadership, Education and Neural Developmental Disabilities. They're known as Kansas LEND. You can follow them on Facebook. They have family education series that are broadcast live on Facebook and they're archived on the Kansas LEND YouTube page. So you can access them and you don't need an account. If you register for them, you'll get all the handouts and slides emailed to you. But August 13th, Kansas LEND, myself and representatives from Sunflower, Aetna and United are going to be presenting on intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Waiver. So if you have more questions, you can join or like Kansas LEND on Facebook. Families Together has a great resource page for current resources and activities as well. Their Web site is familiestogetherinc.org. KU Medical Center Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. It was formerly known as the Center for Child Health and Development. They're working with the Kansas Center on Autism Research and Training and Kansas University Centers on Developmental Disabilities. And they're all all of those entities. And we will we will post those links are available to assist where needed and provide information on how all of those different entities support the community and support our families who are working through this COVID-19 crisis right now. So those are some resources. Also the the Johnson County CDDO Web site, we have a link to resources. We even have, as we discussed earlier, cloth masks available for people on the waiting list. It doesn't have to be your child. If you have to go out and work and come home, you you call us and we'll see about what we can do to get you cloth masks. I think we're kind of seeing this now where things are opening back up and we're going back out into our communities and doing things that like we used to do. We have people who run the gamut of I'm not ready to go out yet to let's go out and let's go do everything we used to do. So, you know, I think about our families with children. Ashley and Carla, you guys have any recommendations for families on how to help their children prepare to go back out into maybe, you know, school in the fall or going to summer camp or things like that?

Carla Sadler [00:45:14] And as we've been discussing that within our own team, we've been talking about the importance of really actually starting to talk about it. Don't wait until the day before, the week before, but start practicing and role modeling maybe what some of those expectations would be. So, for example, if if maybe wearing masks might be a scary thing for someone, maybe start wearing it at home. Practice, even if it's just for a little bit and shape that behavior here and maybe reinforce them holding it at first and then wearing it for a little bit and wearing it for longer periods of time, maybe make sure that the staff for the parents are also wearing it and role modeling that behavior, tying it to something positive to help increase the chances of success. But talking about what those expectations are out are like when we're out in the community. The importance maybe of where, you know, using hand sanitizer. Or making sure that we are socially distanced from others. I know one of our other behavioral specialists did an exercise through Zoom, but where you've probably seen it on the Internet, where you stick your finger in a bowl of water that has pepper in it. And when you do that, the pepper sticks around your finger. But if you put soap on it and then you stick your finger in the water, then the pepper spreads away from your finger. And that was just an example of an exercise to try to teach a child about the importance of keeping our hands clean and hands after we've been out in the community and that sort of thing. But preparing you whenever the situation is for that individual, start talking about it now and practicing and pre-teaching those expectations. For some, social stories might be important. And there are all kinds of resources out there on the Internet and there are some about what school might look like when I return. There's social stories about wearing masks. For almost any scenario you can think of, there are social stories out there and it's not it's fairly easy to make them yourselves as well. And that's something that we would always be happy to help with if if the need would arise.

Theresa Freed [00:47:16] For more information about COVID-19, visit us on jocogov.org/coronavirus. You can also subscribe to a daily newsletter with the latest data and precautions being taken in the county and state. And for more information about Johnson County Developmental Support, check out the show notes for this episode.

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