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Community integration for all people with developmental disabilities

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September 2021

In This Issue

My Life Magazine

Strategic Plan Survey

DSP Appreciation

Voter Registration

Publishing His Story

Upcoming Events

From the Superintendent

HCDDS is creating its 2022-2024 Strategic Plan, which will guide our agency’s priorities over the next three years. We're interested in gathering feedback from all of our stakeholders, so we're offering several surveys with questions specific to different stakeholders including people we support, their families, and providers.


You can find all of the surveys at hamiltondds.org/survey.


In addition to the surveys, this month we hosted several in-depth conversations with people we support, families, and providers about the future of our agency. If you weren’t able to participate in one of these conversations but would like to discuss your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you. You can contact Dawn Freudenberg to share your ideas.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to complete the survey and share your ideas about how we can continue to support people to live, work, learn, and fully participate in their communities over the next strategic plan cycle. 


Leia Snyder

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We're excited to share the inaugural issue of My Life! Our new quarterly magazine aims to empower people with independent life skills, share success stories, and promote opportunities for advocacy and making connections. It's created by and for people with developmental disabilities. 

You can find a free copy at local library branches, our offices, and other places in the community! If you know where we can distribute My Life, have story ideas, or want to get involved, send an email to magazine@hamiltondds.org. We hope you enjoy it!

Celebrating Direct Support Professionals


Last week was Direct Support Professional Appreciation Week, and we celebrated DSPs with gifts and a honk-and-wave at our PPE handout. We also shared stories and photos highlighting the amazing work of Direct Support Professionals and their impact on the lives of people with developmental disabilities they support. See more photos on Facebook or Instagram.

Statewide Efforts to

Recruit More DSPs

The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities is taking steps to increase the number of people eligible to be hired as direct support professionals. Through Sept. 30, 2022, applicants are not required to have a high school diploma or GED.


Additionally, providers can hire people ages 16 and 17 to perform more limited duties as assistants. These employees cannot provide intimate personal care or administer medications and must always work with a DSP that meets all requirements in the rule.

Read more about these temporary measures to increase the number of quality direct support professionals in this DODD memo.


This month, the Ohio Association of County Boards of DD, the Ohio Provider Resource Alliance and other statewide organizations authored a letter about the ongoing DSP workforce crisis. The letter intends to begin a conversation among people served, their family members, DD professionals, and other system stakeholders about addressing this workforce shortage.

HCDDS Continues to Support Providers & DSPs

This DSP staffing crisis is impacting services for people with DD, including in-home supports, transportation, day programs, and more. Although not everyone receiving services in Hamilton County has felt the effects of this crisis, Superintendent Leia Snyder recently outlined how HCDDS is addressing this workforce shortage.


We introduced several initiatives to help offset increased costs of responding to the current staffing crisis. This includes funding to cover a portion of overtime costs, travel expenses for those relocating to fill shifts, and some costs associated with hiring and training new DSPs. We're working closely with providers to respond to their needs, support their work, and improve services for people with developmental disabilities in our community.


We also continue to encourage the use of remote support technology, which can provide support and independence without requiring a DSP in the home. These initiatives are only one piece of the solution. There is no quick or simple fix to this crisis as providers and county boards of DD across Ohio confront staffing shortages.

Author with Autism Shares His Experience in New Book

Daniel Nardi was having a bad day. It was January 2020, and he wasn’t sure what to do with himself. “I kind of was just hopeless, and my mom said, ‘Daniel, you should write a book,’” he shared. “I thought about it for a while, then just went to my room, opened Google Docs and I just started writing.”

Nardi, 21, has autism and has been diagnosed with depression. Recently he published a memoir called Daniel’s Way: My Experiences with ASD and Mental Health. “I was put through a lot at 17 years old to 20 years old,” he said. “I wanted to share my story because I felt like it would help me feel a little better and get people to understand what I went through.”

For years, Nardi was in and out of hospitals for his mental health struggles, including thoughts of suicide. He was prescribed numerous medications and went through nine electroconvulsive therapy treatments. “I was so frustrated and upset, and I wanted to go home,” he said. “I went through a lot on that unit, but I felt like it was a special place. I learned so much there about self-care.”

Over the years, Nardi estimates he spent close to 200 days in the psychiatric units. His longest stay was 50 days and during that time he grew close to staff.

Daniel’s Way describes his experiences and how caring people around him made a difference in his life. “I think if I would have known more about being in an inpatient unit, I would have handled it better,” he said. “I would have been more calm and understanding. But I was young and 18, and just wanted to go home.”

Nardi hopes his book can help others who are struggling. It’s available on Amazon as a paperback and e-book. It’s also for sale on his website, danielsway.net, where you can request a signed copy.

Register to vote!


Did you know Sept. 13-20 was National Disability Voter Registration Week? It's a way to encourage people with disabilities to use their voices and vote on a local, state and national level.

This year, Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2, and you can vote for local councils, school boards and other community issues. The last day to register to vote in November's election is Monday, Oct. 4.

Visit the Hamilton County Board of Elections website to check your registration, view a sample ballot, request an absentee ballot, find your polling station and more.

DD Council Podcast

The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council wants to hear your story!

Their monthly podcast, Ohio DD Talks, is looking to feature people with developmental disabilities, family members, and community members.

Submit your story on the DD Council website and you might be featured in a future episode.

Giving Tree

The Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati is giving gifts to families this holiday season. Children and adults with Down syndrome are eligible.

Families can sign up to receive gifts or be a sponsor and buy holiday gifts. Register by Nov. 18.

Learn more on the DSAGC website.

We were honored to receive an award at LADD's Taking Flight ceremony this month! HCDDS was recognized for its hard work and commitment to people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Special thanks to Jennie Flowers, director of our Major Unusual Incident and Prevention team, and Carin Sherman, manager of our Innovation & Quality team, for representing us at the award ceremony!

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COVID-19 Updates

Hamilton County is experiencing a substantial spread of COVID-19. As we have done throughout the pandemic, HCDDS is following guidance from our local health department, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). See our updated operating procedures here.

If you still need a COVID-19 vaccine, many local health departments and pharmacies are scheduling appointments or hosting walk-in clinics. Children ages 12-15 are now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Visit the Health Collaborative website for more information. You can also find local vaccine clinics, and schedule your appointment through the Ohio Department of Health's Get The Shot website


Nervous about getting a vaccine or have questions about COVID-19? The CDC has a variety of resources for people with disabilities, including social stories.

If you received a COVID-19 vaccine but lost your vaccination card, Ohio now has a centralized website to request a replacement. Visit this link and complete the simple questionnaire.

Several local library branches have COVID-19 test kits that can be picked up for in-home rapid testing. For other testing locations, visit Test and Protect Cincinnati. Anyone who lives or works in Hamilton County is eligible to get tested.

Upcoming Events

Always check the event website for the latest information. Find more events on the HCDDS website.

  • DSAGC Early Matters Playgroup. 9:30-11 a.m. (ages 0-2) or 3:30-5 p.m. (ages 3-5) Wednesdays October through December. Parents can socialize while children interact and play. Register here


  • Zoom Connection Hour2-3 p.m. Tuesdays or 5-6 p.m. Wednesdays on Zoom. For adults we serve who are looking to be social and meet others. Learn more

  • Neighbors in Action (NIA). 5-6 p.m. first and third Thursdays. Learn about advocacy and topics such as voting, transportation, technology and more. Details here.

  • Family Cooking with Chef Miles. 4:30-5:15 p.m. third Thursdays, October through December on Zoom. Learn about kitchen tools and more while working on fine motor skills. Click here

  • ASGC Teen Time Hangouts. 5:30-7 p.m. Fridays on Zoom. Trivia, bingo and games of all sorts can be found. Email for information.

  • Virtual Game Night. 5 p.m. second Saturdays in 2021. Inclusive games for everyone to enjoy. Click here for details.

  • Supporting Teens: Skills for Independence and Self Reliance. 7:30-8:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26 online. Two experts share tips on how parents of neurodiverse teens can help them successfully transition from high school to post-secondary life. Click here


  • DSAGC Running/Walking Group. 6-7 p.m. Tuesdays and 10-11 a.m. Saturdays, Sept. 28 - Oct. 26.  Join this six-week training program leading up to the Pigabilities Race (part of the Flying Pig Marathon). Learn more

  • Understanding Trauma & Establishing Resilience. 10 a.m. to noon. Wednesday, Sept. 29 online. A trauma-informed approach to supporting others, including trauma symptoms, the Hand Brain and more. Click here.

  • Special Skills Tennis Invitational. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30 at Linder Family Tennis Center. This is the second annual invitational. Register early. Click here for details


  • Develop a Contingency Plan for When Your PCS is Off. 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30 on Zoom. CILO is hosting a support series where people who use Personal Care Assistance Services in Ohio. Click for details


  • Let's Talk About It-Job Training. 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30. Looking for a job and want to learn more about in-demand careers, employment services and more? Click here.

  • SW Ohio Regional Forum Discussing Transportation and the DSP Workforce. 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5. The forum will address two main topics important to people with developmental disabilities and their supporters. Learn more here.

  • Promising Practices for Professionals Supporting Older Caregivers & Family Members with DD. 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6. Aging & DD colleagues discuss practical ways to “cross-walk” systems to better support senior caregivers of people with DD. Register here.

  • Moving Forward to Create a Safe and Secure Future for You or Family Member with DD. 1-2:30 p.m. or 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6. Learn tools that may be useful. Register here

  • Self-Advocacy: Importance of Expressing Your Needs to Your PCA. 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7 on Zoom. People who use Personal Care Assistance Services can safely share their PCA experiences with others. Click for details.

  • Using Visual Supports to Improve Behavior & Compliance. 12- 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8 online. For parents/caregivers of children with DD who want to understand ways to tailor visual supports based on a child's developmental level and more. Register here

  • CPR and First Aid. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12 at LADD. Participants will get a card stating the successful completion of the course curriculum in CPR and/or First Aid valid for two years through the American Red Cross. Click here for details.

  • HOME & the Library Present Fair Housing Events 101. 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12 at the Westwood Library. Learn your rights as a home buyer or renter. Register here.

  • IEP 101 Workshop. 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13 at DSAGC. Learn the basics of developing an IEP, discuss what to consider when creating appropriate goals, and outline what kinds of services the schools may provide. Learn more here

  • Envision Go the Extra Mile Walk. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16 at Winton Woods. Register now for this free event.  

  • Communication and Personality Styles. 9-11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19 online. Explore verbal and nonverbal communication, the purposes, causes of communication breakdown, and methods to avoid breakdown. Learn more here

  • Mandatory Orientation & Annual Renewal Training. 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28 at LADD. Meets requirements for provider certification and mandatory annual training for providers. Click here for information.

  • DDBP Outreach Autism 101. 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28 online. Learn about Autism Spectrum Disorder, including common behaviors and characteristics. Learn more here


  • Ohio Sibs Conference. Saturday, Nov. 6. Save the date. Learn more.

  • Changing Lives: Essential Skills of a DSP. 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8 online. This class teaches and reinforces skills of great DSPs. Learn more here.  

  • OCALICONLINE 2021. Tuesday, Nov. 16 to Friday, Nov. 19 online. OCALICON is the autism and disabilities conference where people come together to learn, network, and share research, best practices, and resources. Learn more here. 


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