DDPC Connects - April 2019

DDPC Connects - April 2019

DDPC Connects

April 2019

Welcome to another edition of DDPC Connects. This month we will introduce you to Council Member, Dr. Rhoda Wong.  We will also be looking at a pair of projects awarded to Niagara University that revolve around safety for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities in the community. Lastly, we encourage you to check out some resources as we celebrate Autism Awareness Month.

Meet the Members

Rhoda Wong picture


Rhoda Wong, PhD, LCSW-R

"Being present in the DDPC meetings creates a platform for me. That makes the Chinese families and their challenges visible to the mainstream I/DD community and gives opportunities for their voices to be heard."










Rhoda is a recent addition to our council. A former social worker, she currently, volunteers as a full-time program coordinator for Alliance for Families with Developmental Needs (AFDN), a self- and mutual-support organization dedicated to Chinese parents or caregivers of children with special needs. Their goal is to empower families and educate the public on issues related to developmental needs. Rhoda says in the last three years, AFDN has grown from a small parent group into a unique community organization that plays significant roles in advocacy for parents and caregivers in the Chinese I/DD community. And it was through this organization that Rhoda came to know the DDPC.

Rhoda comments: "Through AFDN family members, I learned about the DDPC Cultural Competence Workgroup and then the NYS DDPC. Due to lack or limited English proficiency, many Chinese immigrant parents and caregivers are not able to get involved in the mainstream ID/DD resource network. AFDN cores suggested and supported me to become a DDPC member. They hope that I will bring their voices and challenges regarding cultural competence practice to public awareness."

Rhoda knows first-hand how much impact these barriers to support can have. Rhoda has an adult brother with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As she grew up she saw how stigma hurt her own family,  "My mother struggled her whole life to raise and care for him without any family and social support. My father was ashamed of having a son with developmental disabilities." Rhoda hopes that the AFDN and the DDPC can provide a platform for her to prevent future families and caregivers from struggling in this same way. 

Alliance for Families with Developmental Needs banner


Already Rhoda has served as a bridge between the NYC immigrant families and the service delivery system. When OPWDD officials learned Chinese parents could not participate in CCO transition forums due to language barriers and late schedules, former Deputy Director JoAnn Lamphere came down two times to Chinatown in the early morning to meet the Chinese parents. And this work brought more attention to the concerns and challenges of Chinese parents within the current OPWDD service delivery system. After some follow up dialogues, AFDN and OPWDD Regional Officials agreed on having quarterly workgroup meetings to address the cultural competence challenges in the service delivery system.

According to Rhoda, Chinese parents and caregivers are more than just the service recipients. They are empowered community partners. Through DDPC meetings, Rhoda has been exposed to resources and innovative programs serving the mainstream community. She works to bring back what she learns to the Chinese I/DD community. That information stimulates AFDN parents with new ideas in serving other parents and caregivers in the Chinese community. And these ideas are shared with Rhoda, who brings them back to us on the Council. Rhoda says this is a great system and she encourages other communities to get involved. Rhoda says, " "I encourage more Chinese caregivers as well as people from other ethnic and cultural groups including Korean, South Asian and Latinos communities to join the DDPC. In our diverse society, particularly in NYS, I hope that all cultural groups would be able to share and have access to the publicly funded resources for their well-beings."

Grant Updates

Dave Whalen picture and First Responders DIsability Awareness training logo

First Responders Disability Awareness Training

The DDPC funded the Nation's first comprehensive program intended to train police, firefighters, EMT's and 911 dispatchers on the proper and appropriate response to calls involving individuals with developmental disabilities.

Developed by Niagara University under a DDPC grant, the First Responders Disability Awareness Training Program (FRDAT) has gained a great deal of attention from both New York State law first responders and first responders in other states.

The FRDAT Program has demonstrated significant impact, and has been adopted by several law enforcement and emergency-response agencies across the State.


Emergency Management Disability Awarness Training logo

Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness is an active DDPC grant that provides trainings to anyone involved in emergency planning, preparedness, response or recovery. These trainings teach emergency personnel how to properly interact with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) in the event of a natural or manufactured disaster.

The grantee, Niagara University, also trains individuals with ID/DD to become active participants in local and state emergency management planning efforts. Visit the website to learn more about emergency preparedness trainings.

Fire truck picture

Hear from people who took the Emergency Management Disability Awareness Training:

"Your teaching kept me engaged from the beginning to the end. I learned so much, not just about emergency planning, but also how to address people properly, how to assist them properly and most importantly, how not to address them. 
I was thinking about how I'm going to integrate your teachings into our emergency planning. Wondering how am I going to set up an advocacy committee, who am I going to ask to be in it. My mind was racing because this NEEDS to be done.
Needless to say, your training has inspired me to make sure that everyone in my community is included, even more, to be a better person overall. I haven't been this excited about work in a long time and I have you to thank for it."
- Long Beach, NY Fire Department

“As a Red Cross leader in disaster disability integration, I found the Niagara University two-day emergency training invaluable. Instructor Dave Whalen’s expertise in disability inclusion for emergency management is outstanding. From ADA to New York State specific regulations, Dave covers the issues and provides a wealth of resources to participating trainees.
I highly recommend this training.”  
-Location, Red Cross


Click here to learn more about the trainings. 

Autism Awareness Months

Autism Society Ribbon image


In 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo proclaimed April as Autism Awareness Month in New York State. New York has joined a number of states across the country in promoting autism awareness and inclusion. The Autism Society, a leading grassroots autism organization, originally observed the month as an opportunity to spread awareness. To learn more about the Autism Society and how to get involved, visit their website.  










The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities

The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University at Albany (CARD Albany) is a university - affiliated resource center that brings research and practice together in community settings. CARD Albany provides evidence-based training and support to families and professionals, and through ongoing research, contributes knowledge to the field of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).


Upcoming and Ongoing programs through CARD:

Spring Family Training Series
CARD hosts a spring family training series created specifically for families of individuals with ASD. This spring, our Spring Family Training Series will include three different speakers, topics and dates all at The Albany Marriot. The topics include Sexual Health Education (S.H.E.), Verbal Behavior, and Caregiver Self-Care.


Autism Graduate Certificate Program

University at Albany now offers a Certificate of Graduate Studies in Autism.  This certificate is comprised of a three course (9 credits) sequence, which focuses on the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders and the science of applied behavior analysis.


The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®)

The PEERS intervention is an evidence-based social skills group for adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The PEERS® intervention is offered at no cost through CARD Albany and includes small-group instruction, role-playing demonstrations, social coaching, and socialization assignments to help teens learn real-world social skills to make and keep friends.