A More Accessible and Inclusive World
For Developmental Disability Awareness Month, RMHS reflects on ways we support the I/DD community to create better world.
For nearly three decades, Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS) has served as a hub for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, building a network to simplify access.
As we recognize Developmental Disability Awareness Month, it’s an appropriate moment to acknowledge the role that RMHS has played in connecting people to services and how we’ve expanded and refined our work.
RMHS provides support to people through case management services, telehealth, development and more in the following programs: Mill Levy, Early Intervention, Service Coordination, Family Support Services and the Life Skills & Supports.
Over the years, RMHS has adapted to meet the needs of people supported. Restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in many day programs and activities being canceled. People who rely on these programs needed an alternative. Mill Levy was able to support those people by creating safe social opportunities to help mitigate feelings of isolation.
For instance, a woman who had a 50 percent reduction in her hours at work had more time on her hands. Her reduction in hours and decrease in personal interaction created challenges for her. With the support of Mill Levy, she was able to live out her dream of horseback riding during her free time.
In a separate situation, a young boy was feeling the strain of social isolation and struggled to maintain his focus on his schoolwork. He received a trampoline funded by Mill Levy to help him stay active while at home for remote schooling. For his mother, the trampoline seems “God sent.” It has provided a way for him to be entertained, focused and healthy.
The pandemic has posed challenges for nearly everyone, but those have been particularly stark for people in the I/DD community. Remote learning has been difficult for some of the children served by RMHS. They’ve had trouble adjusting to not seeing their friends every day, but are engaging in a new way of learning.
Last year, a student found himself in need of educational support to help him complete his assignments and Mill Levy stepped up with support. What that meant in this case is that a provider started going to the student’s home to help him in staying focused on his work. According to his mother, he had hundreds of incomplete assignments and was having difficulty managing them.
His provider worked with him five days a week for about 3 hours a day, which is about the maximum he can handle depending on what else he's had to do that day in terms of therapies. The service is different than tutoring as the academic material comes from the school, but the support assures he remains engaged and on task.
Along with academic support, RMHS-funded programs have helped people with I/DD find employment.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 17.9 percent of persons with a disability were employed in 2020. The employment rate for persons without a disability was 61.8 percent.
A Mill Levy program that addresses employment readiness for I/DD people is the Easterseals Supported Employment. It helps people with an I/DD get and retain a job with the support of an employment specialist. The program uses its knowledge of employer needs and networks to prepare and connect folks with an I/DD to positions that fit their needs.
In the past, Easterseals has helped a woman with an I/DD who struggled to find a position that would more fully tap her potential. Her new employer gave her the opportunity to learn how to place merchandise out on the sales floor, use a hand scanner to produce markdown tickets for sale items, and other duties.
Support for people with I/DDs also extends to the youngest among the people we support. In Early Intervention, staff work with the families of infants and toddlers with a developmental delay or disability. The program focuses on five areas of development to help children reach their developmental goals.
A one-year-old baby got a chance to experience a music class from the menu of additional support options. The classes taught her some fun dance moves and new words. She also received additional support toys to aid her in her continued development.
Engaging the community to help people supported overcome challenges and live the life they envision for themselves is at the core of what we do at RMHS. Happy Developmental Disability Awareness Month!