A Model to Emulate?

Canada’s first community designed specifically for people with dementia is opening next year in Langley, British Columbia.  It’s called “The Village” – the design of which was inspired by Hogeweyk, the world’s first dementia village, in The Netherlands.

Planned so that people could be “safely” independent and live their own life their way,  residents will be able to shop, have a coffee, walk their dog, and get their hair cut in the Village Square, as well as take part in various community-based activities.

Read the full story here.

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The Time to Start Planning is Now

A recent U.S. based study in the Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities shows that very few parents of children with intellectual disabilities adequately plan for the future of their children. The key barriers?  Fear, stress, high costs, and lack of time. The biggest reason, cited by 61 percent of parents, was a lack of residential, employment and recreational options and services.

Read the article here.

A Special Dutch Village: lessons to learn?

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Just outside Amsterdam, the small village of Hogeway only has 152 inhabitants. But Hogeway is more than just a tiny town.  It is, in fact , a special, cutting-edge community for Alzheimer’s patients that has its own town square, theatre, garden, and post office. Unlike typical villages however, this one has cameras monitoring residents every hour of every day, caretakers dressed in street clothes, and only one door in and out of town, all part of a security system designed to keep the community safe.  Friends and family are encouraged to visit.  Residents at Hogewey require fewer medications, eat better, live longer, and appear more joyful than those in standard elderly-care facilities.

Could this be an exciting model or blueprint for similar-type communities for adults with developmental disabilities?  Read more about Hogeway here and let me know what you think!

Click here for the terrific CNN profile on this unique community.

Click here for an article about Hogeway by the Daily Mail.

The link to the Hogeway website may be found here.

I believe there are many lessons we can model and apply for adults with developmental disabilities.

Special Ed Apps

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Down Syndrome Education International (DSEI) recently introduced its See and Learn Speech Series apps, available from the Windows Store and the iTunes App Store. See and Learn Speech is designed to teach children to hear and produce speech sounds (phonemes), to hear the differences between sounds (discrimination), to develop their speech sound system (phonology), and to produce clear speech. See and Learn Saying Words plus additional new apps in the See and Learn Speech Series are planned for the near future. Check out the See and Learn resources at seeandlearn.org

Apple is also highlighting a growing number of apps catering to individuals with developmental disabilities and other special needs with a featured special education section in iTunes’ App Store. Located in the “Education” category, you’ll find a “Special Education Collection” that includes a variety of useful applications for computers, iPhones and iPads, including apps used for communication, emotion and language development, seeing and hearing, sensory and visual perception, tracking and reference, and life skills. In addition to being fun, engaging and valuable teaching and learning tools, these apps are increasingly popular in the special needs community as assistive technology devices as well as organizational and teaching aids.

Friendship Center

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Here’s a terrific learning facility that is part of Friendship Circle in West Bloomfield, just outside Detroit. All under one roof, The Meer Family Friendship Center includes dedicated areas for art, music, kitchen skills as well as tactile, gross motor and water-based activities.  In addition, there is a large gym as well as Weinberg Village, a very cool 5,000 square-foot, true-to-life cityscape complete with traffic lights, park benches, and parking meters – where students with disabilities from 200 schools in 54 school districts come to experience and learn, in a controlled and caring environment, simulated real-world life skills.  The Village includes a theatre, pet shop, pharmacy, bakery, library and bank as well as social gathering areas.

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This facility seems like a fantastic idea for individuals with developmental disabilities to practice and experience real-world scenarios, build confidence and self-esteem, and grow friendships through shared experiences. This type of facility also offers significant potential for employment and volunteer training as well as actual employment opportunities.

If anyone has had any direct experience with The Friendship Center, we’d love to hear from you!