Feature Issue on Person-Centered Positive Supports and People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Embracing Positive Practices


Amy Hewitt is Director of the Research and Training Center on Community Living, Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota. She may be reached at hewit005@umn.edu.

In 2016, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) came together to develop a position statement on community living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). This statement provides a bold message that all people with IDD can and should have the opportunity and be supported to live full lives of their choosing in their communities. Person-centered planning, positive behavior support, trauma-informed practices, and other positive supports are essential to supporting people with IDD to live in their communities. Fully integrating and using these practices will require changes to state infrastructure such as 1) building better systems for training and education for people with IDD, their families, advocates, allies, policymakers and practitioners (including all direct support professionals) on positive practices; 2) changes in policies that require use of positive practices; 3) building data and accountability systems that monitor outcomes of using positive practices; and 4) ensuring opportunities to emerge, try, and implement new positive practices.

It is often challenging for organizations and systems to implement, evaluate, modify, and scale-up the use of existing and emerging positive practices. Scaling up is challenging for many reasons including, but not limited to, implementing without reflection and evaluation; not taking into full consideration cultural difference at individual, organizational, and community levels; and the need for ongoing refinement, training, and retraining due to staff turnover at all levels. In order to assure community living opportunities for ALL individuals with IDD, it is important for practitioners/providers, policymakers, and researchers at all levels and in all systems to embrace the opportunity and need to scale-up the use of positive practices that will support community living.