Supporting Children with Technology-Based Solutions

GROWING THE SKILLS OF INDEPENDENCE

Smart-home technology: It’s not just for adults! Smart technology can be extremely beneficial to children, providing them with natural supports. Developing independent living skills from a young age prepares children for the transition to adulthood and community-based living. Assistive technology can create opportunities for children to learn to be more independent while supporting their health and safety.

“The technology has been such a blessing. As a single parent, it was difficult for me to monitor Anissa round the clock. Now I can be on the opposite side of the house from Anissa and know if she goes into the kitchen or leaves the house in search of food,” says Janet Smith, mother of Anissa, a teenager with developmental disabilities.

MEET ANISSA

Like most teenagers, Anissa wants to have more independence at home and in the community. With her diagnoses of Prader-Willi syndrome and developmental disabilities, however, Anissa has needed intensive monitoring to keep her healthy and safe. When her mother first contacted us, she was supervising Anissa around the clock so that she didn’t overeat or leave the home in search of food.

Anissa spent 6 months at a Prader-Willi treatment facility where she was able to learn many life skills to help her manage her behavior and weight. When it was time to return home, her mother and the care coordinator contacted SimplyHome in search of ways to encourage Anissa to continue to make good decisions.

Through the assessment with SimplyHome, Janet decided that door sensors, a bed pressure pad, and a few motion sensors would provide the assurance the family needed while supporting Anissa’s independence. The sensor-based technology not only sends alerts to Janet’s cell phone, but also provides audible notifications within the home.

OUTCOMES FOR ANISSA & HER FAMILY:

Anissa soon learned that when the system created alerts, her family would come check on her. As a result, she learned to redirect her own behavior, by returning to bed when she needs to and not leaving the home without supervision. Her mother notes that with the technology, the family no longer takes shifts to sit up at night, and as a result, her mother has been able to go back to work.

Mother and daughter

For Anissa to be more independent, the family wanted to teach her skills regarding:

  • Self-control related to eating outside of mealtime routines
  • Staying upstairs at night
  • Visiting relatives across the street by herself

Anissa’s system was designed to include motion sensors, a bed pressure pad and door sensors to:

  • Capture movement in certain areas of the home after school and at night
  • Help prevent ingress and egress during early morning and late night hours
  • Alert her and her family if she did not return to bed at night within a certain timeframe

The SimplyHome technology sequences activate only at certain times of day:

  • When Anissa is home
  • When Anissa needs a “teachable moment” to address or re-direct her behaviors
  • When Anissa’s safety requires natural support from family

Though Anissa is still a teenager, Anissa’s family is focused on her future, planning for her success as an adult. As Janet says, “We know we are not going to be around forever. If we don’t start supporting Anissa’s independence now, then she won’t have as many choices when she’s an adult.”

 

To find out more about SimplyHome technology, and how it can support the independent living skills of children and adults, contact us by requesting a free assessment.

 

 

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Sensors Harness Skills for Independence at UCP-NYC

UCP-NYC Image 1SimplyHome is pleased to announce our work with UCP-NYC to incorporate our customized assistive technology services to promote more independent living for residents with United Cerebral Palsy – NYC. UCP-NYC is the leading nonprofit agency in New York City providing direct services, technology and advocacy to children and adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.

“It’s My Own Routine”

One UCP-NYC resident, Efrain, uses SimplyHome technologies to increase independence with respect to his health. He uses Telehealth devices that record his blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and each device notifies staff if those levels exceed set parameters.

Efrain also uses a medication dispenser, which allows him to start his day and take medication without assistance from staff.  “I like just getting up and being able to get going,” said Efrain. “It’s my own routine, I don’t have to wait for staff.”

Read more: UCP-NYC’s full article.

 

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Monarch Pilot Program: Smarter Homes, Greater Independence

PILOT PROGRAM TAKES OFF

SimplyHome is pleased to share technology success stories from our providers across the U.S. and other countries. Today we are featuring two stories of individuals who receive services through Monarch, a nonprofit that supports thousands of North Carolinians who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness, and substance use disorders.

Monarch began a pilot project in 2015, seeking to enhance independence for 46 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental illness living in eight homes in three North Carolina counties. The project combines SimplyHome’s wireless smart home technology with adaptive home modifications to create healthier, safer living environments where residents can have greater control of their daily activities.

You can read the full article in Monarch’s Reaching Dreams Fall/Winter 2016 Newsletter (the stories below are excerpts, used with permission, from that newsletter).

 

INDEPENDENCE THROUGH RESPONSIBILITY

For individuals like Crissy Fiolek, the installation of smart home technology like motion-sensor and iPad-controlled lighting, medication dispensers, panic pendants, an induction stove, temperature-controlled faucets and other features, has had a significant impact.

 

Monarch SmartHome 1

Pictured (l-r): Joann and Crissy, residents of one of Monarch’s smart homes, settle in for an evening at home after locking the front door and setting the alarm using an iPad and smart home technology.

For example, before the smart home technology was installed, Fiolek needed to be reminded three or four times a day by staff to take her medication. She needed assistance in taking the right dosage at the right time. As part of this project, Fiolek received a medication dispenser. The dispenser reminds her when to take her medication and safely provides the correct dosage for her. If she does not take it within a predetermined period, the dispenser accesses the wireless home system and alerts staff she may need assistance.

After just three months, Fiolek rarely has to be reminded to take her medication. She is now more independent when it comes to managing her medication and has more confidence and higher self-esteem as a result.

 

RESPONSIBILITY THROUGH INDEPENDENCE

With the help of smart home technology, Melvin Burton has taken greater advantage of his unsupervised time in the home. Many of the high-functioning people Monarch supports have unsupervised time, where they are able to stay by themselves in the home without staff for short periods.

Unsupervised time increases independence and fosters a sense of personal responsibility and self-reliance, but many residents are afraid to use it because they fear they will need staff and be unable to contact them. With this project, Burton now wears a wrist pendant which is set to alert staff if he presses the button and needs support during his unsupervised time.

 

Monarch Smart Home 2

Melvin shows off his wrist pendant, which is set to alert staff when he presses the button and needs their support.

 

Monarch continues to evaluate the success of this pilot project and hopes to expand it to other homes across the state. The Smart Home Project was developed in partnership with Trillium Health Resources and was made possible with generous support from The Harold H. Bate Foundation, the CarolinaEast Foundation, and many other donors.

 

About Monarch:

Monarch is a nonprofit organization that supports thousands of people statewide with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness, and substance use disorders.

 

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Finding Independence and Saving for the Future in NC

David and his mom

 

FINDING INDEPENDENCE THROUGH TECHNOLOGY

David Maennle is an accomplished young man who directly benefits from assistive technology in North Carolina. David’s chosen lifestyle — living independently in the community with the help of technology — saves the State of North Carolina almost $80,000 per year.

David was born with an intellectual disability, but as his mother Becky says, “He is able to do everything that he puts his mind to. He just does it a bit differently.” David currently has a job and is saving for his dream of building his own log cabin. He rents his own apartment and is able to apply the independent living skills he learned at Western Carolina University.

The use of SimplyHome’s sensors and verbal prompts enable David to:

  • Cook his own meals and be notified if he leaves the stove on.
  • Complete a morning routine of self-care, eating breakfast, taking medication, and tidying up before going to work at a scheduled time.
  • Receive a verbal reminder to close and lock the doors.
  • Access help quickly if needed.

 

Increasing Independence in a Cost-Effective Way

The SimplyHome technology David uses has two components: an annual monitoring fee and a one-time fee for the technology itself:

  • $779.40 annual monitoring fee
  • $6,827 one-time cost for customized SimplyHome System

David’s use of this technology reduces his living costs, enabling him to take advantage of additional supports such as supported employment, in-home skill building and personal care for $80,055 per year. Altogether his living supports total $87,661.

If David were not using technology, he would not have access to these supports. Institutional home care costs would be $60,794 per year and group home rates would be $105,495 per year. That comes to a total of $166,290 per year, which nearly doubles the cost of living in his own home.

The chart below contrasts the annual costs for David’s supports if he were in a group home and receiving day supports, with the annual costs for his more independent lifestyle of living in his own apartment.

 

Comparison Chart

 

DAVID’S VISION FOR HIS LIFE

David lives a fully-immersed life on his own terms, including working for the local EMS, cooking his own meals, and saving for his “Vision”: building his own log cabin, driving his own red truck, and owning a blue-tick hound.

Without the assistance of technology, so much independence and integration into the community would not be possible.

 

DV logo

To learn more about David’s story and to get a tour of his home, watch the “David’s Vision” video.

 

You can also learn more by checking out David’s Facebook page.

 

WHAT ABOUT FUNDING?

Funding is available for individuals in North Carolina to afford to live independently with the use of assistive technology. The NC Innovations Waiver provides funding to local management entities and managed care organizations.  The services provided through the waiver empower individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to:

  • Choose where they live
  • Choose how they spend their time and what they do to be connected to the community
  • Self-direct or manage their supports
  • Support their own growth
  • Obtain access to the adaptive technology they need to live in their community
NC Innovations Waiver Quick Facts*
  • Individual cost limit / reimbursement rate in NC: $135k (maximum)
  • Innovations Waiver cost limit / reimbursement rate for NC per individual: $60k
  • Annual average cost of institutional care in NC: $120k
  • As of October 2016:
    • Waiver Slots: 12,488
    • Current Wait List: 10,000 individuals

*From The Division of Medical Assistance, Community Based Services (North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services)

 

Want to explore other ways that technology can empower independence? Contact SimplyHome at 877.684.3581 or email customer.service@simply-home.com.

 

 

 

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Where Is He Now? An Interview with Brian Keefer of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

“You gotta work on that grip, Brian,” Allen Ray, SimplyHome’s CEO, said on his recent visit to the home of Brian Keefer. This may seem like an odd thing to say to someone who has quadriplegia, but you don’t know Brian Keefer. The 29-year-old Pennsylvanian and star of an episode of TLC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition just laughed in response to Allen’s remark. You might not know that Brian is well-known for his deeply positive outlook and indefatigable dedication to recovering as much mobility as possible after a 2008 gymnastics accident left him paralyzed. A recent highlight of Brian’s recovery was regaining the ability to lift his left hand and to open a door for himself: “It was one of the best things I’ve done in my entire life. A huge stepping stone!”

 

Allen Ray visits with the Keefer Family

While encouraged by his progress, Brian has no intention of stopping there: he wants to walk, drive, and work with others who face quadriplegia. Mindful of this, Allen used his recent trip to Pennsylvania to encourage Brian to continue the intensity of his hard work towards recovery. Allen says, “Brian is focused and determined and will not stop there. We know this development is just one step in his longer journey to recovery.”

 

You may remember that the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episodes featured renovations of the Keefer family home and technology SimplyHome designed for Brian to give him greater independence. The technology included a tablet that powered environmental controls (home automation), a voice-activated adjustable bed and drink machine, intercoms for communicating throughout the home, adaptive controls for playing video games with his family, and voice-controlled text, before voice-texting was a common feature on cell phones.

 

SimplyHome asked Brian a few questions about his life after Extreme Makeover, how technology impacts his life today, and where his goals will lead him next!

 

SH: What’s your life like after the show? Do you get recognized a lot?

Brian: It’s really good. I am really thankful; the show gave me a lot more independence. I can talk to my house, turn on the lights and the music and everything. I definitely get recognized a lot. I travel around South Central Pennsylvania giving speeches, and people recognize me through that, too.

I have had a lot of opportunities. I have gotten to scuba dive in California with my doctors. I have been helping to coach volleyball at my high school. In 2013 I went to Oklahoma for a couple of months and helped coach the men’s and women’s Paralympics volleyball teams.  I’m not just staying in my house – I go out and do things, make choices, to have a full life in society.

 

SH: Tell us about your work as a motivational speaker.

Brian: People have wanted to hear my story ever since I got hurt. I have had people tell me that I have changed their lives completely, helped them through dark times. Every time I do my speech, it’s relatively similar, telling my story. In the Q&A time after my speech, one of the first questions people always ask is, “How are you able to stay so positive?”

 

SH: How do you answer that? You must have some hard days.

Brian: I have always been a really positive person, I am always having fun and smiling. Because I am such a positive person, I am able to turn a really difficult situation into something better. I also have an enormous support system. I am lucky to have what I have, people praying for me and everything.

Everyone has days where they are dark days or down days, but I’ve always been a firm believer that you make the choice whether to be happy or to be sad. Obviously there are things that will affect that, but you can still choose to pick yourself up and do something. And I have so many people supporting me. If I need to, there is someone I can go to – we can go out, get some food, go see a movie.

 

SH: What technology does your daily life involve these days? Are you continuing to use the technology from the show, like the voice-activated texting, bed lift, and drink machine?

Brian: I use a mouth stick to text people now, rather than voice-to-text. That way I can text people even when I am in the middle of something, like watching a movie. I have gotten really fast at it now. I use the environmental controls through my voice on my tablet all day, every day. I don’t need the voice-activated adjustable bed as much, because I just keep it elevated. I read a lot of books on my tablet. I’ll read pretty much anything but my favorites are usually sci-fi and fantasy. Two of my favorite series are Harry Potter and Eragon.

Extreme Home Makeover Edition, Brian Keefer and Family

SH: What do you think about the Amazon Alexa, the new technology Allen brought on his visit?

Brian: Alexa is great, she has great potential. It would be huge to connect it to Environmental Controls. Another thing she could help with is to talk on the phone or use social media.

 

SH: We were excited to hear about you regaining the ability to lift your left arm. Tell us about that process.

Brian: I do physical therapy every day, seven days a week. An aide comes in three times a week to help my dad do the exercises that take two people and are more intensive for my core. After the aide leaves, my dad and I can do more machines that don’t require an outside person. A lot of the exercises work on balance.

The change to be able to lift my arm was gradual. I got a flicker in my left bicep when I was first in the hospital, 8 years ago. About a year and a half ago, I was able to start lifting my arm off the armrest. Still working on the hand and fingers. I opened a door at Kennedy Krieger for the first time by myself last year. It was a huge stepping stone!

 

SH: Tell us about your work on the board of United Central Palsy – Central Pennsylvania.

Brian: I gave a speech for UCP of Central PA a couple of years back and had gotten to know them through that. The president, Jeff Cooper, came out to the house, and I got to know him fairly well. Jeff reached out to me to see if it was something I was interested in doing. I decided to do that to help people across Central PA who have some sort of disability. We have meetings every other week. I give my two cents and help out where I can. I help to make decisions on new programs and how the programs are going, and how to optimize their capabilities for people with disabilities.

 

SH: Your motivational speaking career is growing a lot. Who is your audience right now? How do you see that continuing to grow in the future?

Brian: I will talk to anybody that wants to listen – businesses, schools, churches, Parkinson’s groups, the nursing school in Lancaster. I’d like to expand my speaking audience to other places, beyond South Central Pennsylvania.

I would love to be able to do something like webinars to share my story – it would be a lot easier than driving all over. To be able to share my story and be able to reach out to people who are going through dark times — that’s what I want to do.

 

SH: Looking to the future, what are some things that you would like to accomplish?

Brian: Number one, I want to get out of my chair and walk. I am working toward that every day.

I want to learn to use more technology to become more independent. I would LOVE to drive. For the past three years I have been helping to coach my high school volleyball team. It would be awesome to be able to drive to that.

Potentially I would like to work with more spinal cord injury patients, when I make more of a recovery myself. Who better to work with them than me? I know what they are going through. [Brian’s college degree is in recreational management with a focus on therapy.]

Photo: www.briankeefer.org

SH: As you continue your recovery, what inspires you?

Brian: Probably what inspires me the most is the response I get from other people, telling me that I have helped them. I’ve always wanted to help people, and being told that I inspired them is really big. My family and friends inspire me because they are so supportive and with me on every step of this journey, pushing with me. And I have heard from people all over the world – the show aired in 139 different countries and people will reach out to say that I touched their lives and have been an inspiration to them.

 

Brian Keefer can be contacted regarding his motivational speaking through his website, www.briankeefer.org.

Watch the original episodes from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Season 9: Episode 6 and Episode 7.

 

Arc of NC State Conference Features David Maennle and SimplyHome

“Enabling technology empowers individuals to dream of new possibilities where every person can live a life of their choosing. It should be less about a person’s needs and more about their abilities, capabilities, and potential for success through natural supports.”

- Allen Ray, SimplyHome

 

This year’s ARC of NC State Conference will feature key presentations by SimplyHome and a Western North Carolina family who uses SimplyHome technology on a daily basis to support more independent living. This year’s conference takes place September 8-9, in Charlotte, NC, and brings together self-advocates, families of people with disabilities, and I/DD professionals to create an informative and inspiring experience aimed at supporting people with disabilities as they pursue their personal goals for work, home, and community.

SimplyHome’s conference presentation will engage families to discuss the life-changing effects of assistive technology and smart home options for people with disabilities. SimplyHome will also partner in a panel on Assistive Technology. David Maennle, an individual who uses SimplyHome technology, and his mother, Becky Garland Hopper, will both participate in this panel, discussing how David’s use of assistive technology supports his vision for his life.

David's VisionDavid Maennle’s story (“David’s Vision”) is a great example of how technology can promote independence and create customized outcomes for people with disabilities. David Maennle is an accomplished young man who won’t take no for an answer. Diagnosed with down syndrome as an infant, David has established very specific goals for his home, workplace, and community. He has graduated from Western Carolina University’s University Participant program, formed friendships with people with and without disabilities, successfully completed internships related to emergency medical care and athletic injuries, obtained a job with the Graham County EMS, and frequently volunteers in his community. David’s coworkers attest that he is a valued member of his workplace and his larger community. David also serves in leadership for the advocacy organization NC-TASH.

David’s mother Becky, an outspoken advocate for inclusion, also has a unique perspective on the use of technology to promote independence for people with disabilities. Becky not only functions as Treasurer for the North Carolina TASH, but also works as Finance Officer of Graham County, NC. Because of her position in finance, Becky is keenly aware that David’s chosen lifestyle not only promotes his desired goals for his life, but ends up being a cost-effective way to support people with disabilities.

David uses a SimplyHome system (a customized integration of assistive technology) to promote residential safety, to adhere to a daily schedule, and to enable his family members to provide a natural level of support without intruding on his independence and privacy. David utilizes customized verbal prompts and various sensors throughout his home to reach outcomes related to cooking his own meals, completing a morning routine of self-care before he heads to work, ensuring he meets his health needs every day, and accessing help quickly if needed.

Comparing North Carolina’s typical costs for providing group home or institution-based support services to someone with disabilities similar to David’s, Becky has calculated that David’s chosen, independent lifestyle, supported by assistive technology, saves the state almost $100,000 annually.

 

“Beyond cost, the big factor is his quality of life, and his ability to navigate life himself, which is priceless.”

- Becky Garland Hopper

 

David continues to set and meet goals for his life, whether it be his goal of building his own log cabin, caring for his own bluetick hound, or continuing to work with area emergency services in Western North Carolina.

What can technology do for you and your family? Do you have the courage to change the way you and your loved ones live? Are you ready for technology to step in and provide the independence your family members long for? We’re on this journey together.

Thanks to the willingness of David and other individuals to share their stories, SimplyHome is engaging in thought-provoking discussions on customized technology solutions that promote independence, dignity, and person-centered planning in the lives of people with disabilities.

Sources & Additional Resources:

Kevin and Avonte’s Law: What You Should Know

In an article by Autism Speaks, Federal wandering legislation passes committee vote, gains momentum, it’s stated that a third of children with autism have wandered within the past year.

A new bill, Kevin and Avonte’s Law, has the potential to assist caregivers and families who have loved ones with Alzheimer’s or Autism with a tendency to wander.  It was recently passed by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 15 to 5 and will now go before the Senate.

autism speaks

Kevin and Avonte’s Law is named in honor of two boys with autism who perished after wandering. Nine-year-old Kevin Curtis Wills jumped into Iowa’s Raccoon River near a park and drowned in 2008.  Fourteen year-old Avonte Oquendo left his school and drowned in New York City’s East River in 2014.

The bill allows Justice Department grants to be used by law enforcement agencies and nonprofits for education and training programs to prevent wandering. The bill also provides access to resources to help individuals who become separated from their caregivers. The grants will facilitate training and emergency protocols for school personnel, supply first responders with additional information and resources, and make local tracking technology programs available for individuals who may wander from safety.

The full article can be viewed here.  Disability Scoop has also published additional details regarding the bill.

What technology is available now to help?

The SimplyHome System: By communicating with multiple sensors to observe activities of daily living, the SimplyHome System proactively alerts caregivers and loved ones of changes in behavioral patterns. Text, email or phone alerts can be generated by a single event, an intersection of multiple events or by inactivity.

The Arc’s Tech Toolbox is a place to find, share, rate and review technology for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD).

 

 

‘Smart’ home: Paralyzed in a car accident, student achieves goal of living on his own

Fox Carolina and GoUpstate.com recently published a story about our friend Johnathan Dodd and his journey for independence. We are so proud of what he has accomplished and where he is going.

Photo By ALEX HICKS JR/alex.hicks@shj.com
Published: Friday, April 8, 2016 at 3:15 a.m.

Like many millennials, Johnathan Dodd has his own apartment.

It’s a small one-bedroom place, but it represents so much more for the 26-year-old Spartanburg County native. It gives him a sense of independence.

If that were all there was to Dodd’s story, it wouldn’t be particularly unique. After all, it’s not unusual for young adults to crave their own living space.

But how Dodd’s duplex apartment in Moore is outfitted to allow him to function on his own and, more importantly, how Dodd came to have a physical disability is an extraordinary tale.

Dodd is bound to a wheelchair, having been paralyzed from the neck down from injuries sustained in an automobile accident nearly nine years ago. He now has the ability to move his hands and arms, which allows him to use an app installed on an iPad to perform everyday tasks in what can be called his “smart” home.

At the touch of the screen, Dodd can open his front door to allow visitors to enter.

Other touch screen options give him the ability to set his thermostat and to turn his lights and television on or off.

“I didn’t realize it was going to be that easy,” Dodd said of the technology-driven Simply Home products that allow him to lead a somewhat normal life. “I was like, ‘Wow, that’s it?’ You just touch (the screen) and it does the rest.”

Dodd is living on his own thanks to the help of the Charles Lea Center, a Spartanburg-based nonprofit agency that provides services to individuals with disabilities and special needs.

As part of its HOMES (Helping Others Manage Environment Safely) program, the staff at the Charles Lea Center worked to install the “smart” technology in Dodd’s apartment and is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week should he need assistance.

With the touch of an icon on an iPad screen — which is mounted to his wheelchair — or a phone call, Dodd can get someone from the Charles Lea Center facility across the street to come help him.

“If it wasn’t for (the Charles Lea Center), I’d probably be in a nursing home,” Dodd said. “They mean a lot because they did a lot. Sure, I just call them when I need them, which may not seem like a lot, but they gave me a lot of independence just by saying, ‘Hey, we’re here if you need us.’ Just that right there has made the biggest difference in my life.”

Dodd still has someone come by the apartment each day to help him with such tasks as eating and bathing, but he spends every night and much of the weekend all by himself.

Before the Charles Lea Center outfitted the apartment with “smart” technology, Dodd had to have someone with him at all times. He said he’s been in the apartment for five years, but he’s only been on his own for the past two.

“Having someone around you 24/7 gets old. It doesn’t matter who it is,” Dodd said. “If there’s always someone there, it gets old, eventually. This is just another step to me being independent. I’ve got to be on my own.”

That Dodd is able to live by himself is a remarkable achievement given what he’s gone through medically. Following the automobile accident that paralyzed him, Dodd has had multiple surgeries related to his neck and stomach. He’s also battled through double pneumonia and survived Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

During a visit to the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia for surgery a few years ago, Dodd told the staff he wanted them to help him find an apartment in which he could live on his own.

“They said, ‘Oh, you can’t do that.’ And I was like, ‘I’ll show you I can do it. I know I can.’ …. I basically ended up telling them, ‘I’m not leaving here until y’all find me somewhere to stay.’ So, they did. They found me this place.”

Dodd, who grew up in the Campobello area, had just graduated from Chapman High School a couple of weeks earlier when, on the night of June 16, 2007, his life changed forever.

He and some buddies had gone to a dirt track race in North Carolina. It started to rain, causing a delay in the action, and Dodd decided he’d rather go home than wait for the race to resume. He called his girlfriend to come pick him up.

On the way home, the car his girlfriend was driving came upon an unexpected curve and crashed. The car went down an embankment and flipped, leaving Dodd trapped underneath. His girlfriend escaped with minor injuries and was able to get someone to call for help.

An ambulance took Dodd a mile down the road to a church parking lot, where a helicopter was waiting to transport him to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. Even though he couldn’t move his body, he remained conscious through the entire ordeal.

Dodd recalled, “I just kept thinking the whole time, ‘Don’t go to sleep. You’ve got to stay awake. Whatever you do, don’t close your eyes.’” He feared he might not wake up.

In the hospital, he came close to death. To keep his lungs from collapsing, he had to be induced into a coma that lasted nearly a month. After waking up from the coma, he remembers a doctor in the intensive care unit saying, “This is all you’re ever going to be for the rest of your life.”

Dodd continued, “(The doctor) said, ‘You’ll never be able to move anything from your neck down.’ He said, ‘You may be able to shrug your shoulders one day, but that’s it.’

“And this is making me really mad. I’m like, ‘Ugh, this guy doesn’t know who he’s talking to,’ because I know what I’ve done been through just to be here.

“I’ve always been stubborn. I mean, ‘You’re going to tell me I’m not going to do anything? No, I’m going to show you.’”

Dodd’s independent living is proof of his determination. He refuses to take no for an answer.

“Jonathon is a fighter, and not only is he a fighter, he’s an advocate,” said Laconda Moore, who has worked with Dodd for the last year and a half as director of community transitional living for the Charles Lea Center.

“He advocates for himself, and he advocates for others who need support like him. The things he’s gone through and to still have that tenacity to continue on is just admirable. He always says that we help him, but he really inspires and helps us.”

In his home, Dodd is able to live like most anyone else his age. His television is typically tuned to sports, and he’ll sometimes have friends over to watch Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bouts.

He’s a big fan of the University of South Carolina football team, and his bedroom walls are adorned with autographed photos of former Gamecock standouts Connor Shaw, Jadeveon Clowney and Marcus Lattimore, the latter of whom played with his cousin, Chas Dodd, at Byrnes High School.

Dodd said he’s always been into sports and that he played football, wrestled and ran track while at Chapman High School. Not being as physically active as he’d like to be has been an emotional challenge for him.

“Everybody who has something like this happen to them — it doesn’t matter who you are — it’ll really take the wind out of you at the beginning and you’re going to be down,” Dodd said. “But there comes a point where it’s like a V in the road and you’re either going to say, ‘All right, I’m going to stay here, down in the dumps, taking pity on myself or I’m going to go this way, and I’m going to get on with my life and I’m going to make something of myself.’”

And it’s not like Dodd simply whittles away his alone time watching sports and movies. He’s also been taking online courses at Spartanburg Community College.

In the driveway outside his apartment is a van, which is used to take him wherever he wants to go. The decorative tag on the front of the vehicle features the Superman logo, which he also has tattooed on his chest.

“That basically says you’re not going to hold me down. I’m going to figure out a way,” he said.

Looking out the window at the van, Dodd is reminded of another goal he hopes to achieve.

“I’m scheming, I guess you’d say, trying to figure out a plan of how to get another van that I can drive,” he said. “That’s one of my next goals — to drive. If I can drive, that’ll do a lot, too.”

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Select the video below, or click here, to see how SimplyHome technology has helped Johnathan make his choice of independence.

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Who Are You?

As a company that values people, we want to do more than create outcomes with technology. We also want to provide a platform for voices to be heard so others can be inspired by the passions, visions, and courage these individuals have to share. Check out our latest video where the individuals we work with tell us WHO they are and WHAT they want.

Dakota’s Story

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 11.38.02 AMWe are on the road again and this time we ran into our friend Dakota. Click here to watch the video.

Dakota is a young man who desired to live on his own. Dually diagnosed with mental health issues and IDD, he had been hospitalized twice for aggressive behavior that injured other adults. Dakota’s mother, however, knew that with the right natural supports, he could live in a supported community setting rather than in a group home. His team agreed that given his behavioral challenges, living alone could actually be a better option than congregate living.

When asked about his priorities for independence, Dakota noted:
• He didn’t want anyone to be telling him what to do
• He wanted to have friends over and not have his home look like a preschool (staff had posted large pictures around his home since Dakota was a nonreader)

SimplyHome developed a wireless sensor system to cue Dakota so that he could be reminded by technology rather than by adults.
His cues included:
• Getting his keys and locking his door when leaving the apartment
• Turning off his stove if he left it on longer than 30 minutes
• Taking a shower and bathing with soap
• Using his CPAP machine so he could get better sleep at night

He also used a medication dispenser to remind him to take his medication regularly. At the 6-month mark, Dakota had accomplished the following outcomes with technology as a natural support:
• Staff was reduced to from 2-to-1 to 1 person, and the same staff person, John, remained with him since the team meeting 6 months prior
• Dakota had called our office to request the door cue be removed because he naturally grabbed his keys and locked his door
• Dakota demonstrated 100% compliance with his CPAP machine at night, thus resulting in better sleep for physical and behavioral renewal

At the 9-month mark, Dakota’s SimplyHome representative, Cameron Kempson, visited him at his apartment. When she arrived, he was playing basketball with people from the apartment complex community. John, his staff person, noted that with the assistance of the technology, he and Dakota were able to develop a rapport rather than argue all the time. John had been working with Dakota on social and behavioral skills that now enabled him to play a team sport with neighbors.

At the 9-month mark, Dakota had accomplished the following outcomes with technology as a natural support:
• Maintained the same staff person for the 9-month period and had reduced staff hours from 12 hours to 6 hours per day
• Transitioned to using a smart phone alert for medication and demonstrated 100% compliance
• Cooked meals independently without leaving the stove on or burning food
• Most importantly, demonstrated success in activities of daily living, ability to self-advocate, and integrate into his neighborhood community