Stressed, exhausted? Try breathing…

As our training program has grown, we have found ourselves often talking with families and professionals about the dramatic effects of stress in their lives. One of our trainings focuses on stress and burnout for helping professionals. Click below to take a look at one of the strategies, Square Breathing, that is highlighted in our training “Stress & You.”

Sexual Assault Awareness Month


To wrap up Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), we are reposting a blog from Elevatus Training, “leaders in sexuality and developmental disability.” Our team recently purchased a sexual education curriculum from this organization, and we are impressed with how it is disability-aware AND trauma-informed! The ACL is committed to connecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to accessible sexual education to help reduce the risk of abuse and increase the chance of healthy, meaningful relationships. If you are talking with your child, teen, or adult about relationships and sexuality, Elevatus has some tips!

12 Power Tips to Build Skills and Confidence When Talking About Sexuality

As we prepare to turn our calendars from April to May, we wanted to wrap-up Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) by sharing "12 Power Tips to Build Skills and Confidence When Talking About Sexuality."

Be open, non-judgmental, and kind when you are answering questions or bringing up the topic. Remember, it can take a lot of courage to ask a question. 

Start early and keep talking, even when it’s uncomfortable. The more you practice, the easier it gets.

Use teachable moments. You can start a conversation naturally while you’re watching television or people are interacting, reading a book or listening to music together.

Use multiple teaching techniques: present information through pictures, books, videos, or social learning, including role-play or ask, “What would you do if...?”

Use correct terms that prepare people to talk about their body and experiences: knowing the real names for their body parts makes it easier to communicate about them.

Give positive messages. Being positive and non-judgmental helps people develop personal values, self-esteem, effective communication, and good decision-making skills.

Keep it simple; provide simple, direct explanations, using words they can understand. Long explanations can be unnecessary, or more confusing.

You don’t have to know all the answers. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to know everything about sexuality. It is okay to say, “I don’t know, but will find out for you.”

Be approachable, make it clear that they can ask you anything, as well as seek help to find the answer together.

It’s OK to feel embarrassed. If you feel embarrassed say, “I feel a little embarrassed about your question. Your question is a really good question.” Make sure your embarrassment doesn’t give the impression they did something wrong by asking the question.

OK to answer later. If you don’t know how to answer the question it’s okay to say, “great question, but I need some time to figure out how to answer that question. I will get back to you soon.”

Give facts and a range of opinions. Stick to facts. When you just give the facts you aren’t imposing your values. You can also add a range of opinions to your answer. You could say, “some people think this and others think this, what do you think?”.

Even though SAAM is coming to a close, we encourage you to continue to raise awareness and educate the people you care about, work with, or live with about sexual assault. Sexuality education is the first line of defense for all individuals, and we remain committed to empowering you with the tools and skills you need to do this. Please continue to utilize our Sexual Assault Awareness Toolkit to support people with developmental disabilities filled with helpful articles and resources. 

Why Disability Pride?

Disability Is.jpg

Why ‘Disability Pride’? The question has a clear answer when you consider the opposite of pride: shame. People experience shame when they suffer social rejection; when they are bullied; when they are insulted or taunted; and when they seek to belong but are, instead, criticized and demeaned.[1]

Our society is full of the markers of disability shame. People with disabilities experience oppression through low employment rates, minimum wage exemption, higher likelihood to be victims of abuse & bullying, exclusion from education, social isolation, under-representation politically and in the media, higher rates of poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and poor access to wellness and healthcare.[3]

When [people] are successful and feel proud, they instinctively look to others. When they fail and feel ashamed, they look away. This is in the nature of pride and shame. The universal behavior associated with the emotion of shame is concealment; we all attempt to hide or cover up what we are ashamed of. Pride is the antithesis of shame. The feeling of pride is accompanied by an outward movement and a desire to show and tell others, to exhibit or show off. Pride is expansive, both in action and in our imagination. (Barish, 2012)

 A person’s expectation of feeling proud or ashamed influences their choices. Shame lowers our hopes and causes us to avoid opportunity. Pride raises our hopes and encourages us to seek opportunities. Evolutionary psychologist, Glenn Weisfeld, told us, “We anticipate pride and shame at every turn and shape our behavior accordingly.”[1] Therefore, the social and internalized experience of disability shame is stealing opportunity from people with disabilities. This is our society’s systemic oppression of the largest and most diverse minority group in our country.

The Disability Pride Movement works against this oppression by promoting the belief that having a disability is a natural part of human diversity and seeks to boldly celebrate and value that diversity. Disability Pride is about embracing disability identity as a valued part of who a person is; it is about rejecting the concept that some groups of people are less valuable than others. Pride is about, not only the acceptance or “inclusion” of difference, but about the celebration of difference.

 For this movement to take hold, the “pride” has to be because of disability, not in spite of disability. Therefore, we cannot ignore or minimize the disability-identity in the person. We cannot euphemistically sweep it under the rug with words like “special needs.” When we tout about how people with disabilities are just the same as everyone else, and we should focus on abilities, this is shoring the idea that a disability is something to be ashamed of. This is a building block of an ableist culture. “The women’s movement does not emphasize the “maleness” of women. The LGBTQ+ movement does not emphasize the “heterosexual-ness” of gay men and women. But the disability movement does very much emphasize the “ableness” of people with disabilities” (Parsons, 1999). This ableist view of total independence and perfection not only harms and shames people with disabilities, but every person who asks for help or does not meet the ideal of perfection.

Over the course of history, we have learned two key lessons from other rights movements: The power of the collective (including allies) and the motivating force of pride. Like other minority groups, people with physical and developmental disabilities are beginning to speak up about the pride they feel within their community.

People with disabilities are emerging as artists, comedians, and vloggers with new perspectives to share about the experience of having a disability. This is the beginning of Disability Culture. If you have a disability or don’t have a disability, you can help build the momentum of Disability Pride. Share photos, tell stories, be visible and bold about disability, be loud about your humanness, diversity, and imperfection, and most importantly, celebrate one another.


 Take a look at these videos celebrating Disability and share them everywhere!

Undervalued, Underestimated, and Unseen

Here at the ACL, we are working daily to build inclusive communities that enhance and embrace the lives of our neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family members with Intellectual and Developmental disabilities. One of the biggest hurdles we encounter is the mass of misinformation and misunderstanding about people with disabilities. This month (and every month!) we are helping our community “Learn the Truth” about people with Intellectual and Developmental disabilities to create a new narrative that strengthens our community through diversity. Take a look at these videos below and consider what you can do to help strengthen our community.

What exactly do we mean by IDD?

March is recognized as Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, so we thought this would be a great time to explain what we mean by “Intellectual/Developmental disabilities (IDD).” Because the definitions of IDD can vary state-by-state and federally, we will talk about IDD here in general, practical terms. If you are interested in the specifics of statutes and rules, you can follow these links to read more about Colorado’s definition, Colorado’s rule change, and the Federal IDEA definition for a child with a disability.

Intellectual and Developmental disabilities refer to two disability groupings. “Developmental disability” is the broader, umbrella term and includes (but is not limited to) “Intellectual disability.”

 Developmental disabilities (DD) are a group of conditions due to a delay or impairment in cognitive ability, physical functioning, or both.

These delays begin during the developmental period (in utero until end of adolescence) and will likely last throughout a person’s lifetime. These disabilities affect the path of the individual’s physical, learning, language, or behavioral development and may likely affect day-to-day functioning. [1]

 Some Developmental disabilities are:

1) solely physical, such as blindness from birth;

2) some are both cognitive and physical, often true for people with Down syndrome;

3) and other developmental disabilities only affect cognitive abilities. In some cases, this is termed “Intellectual disability.”

Because of the diversity of ability under the umbrella of Developmental disabilities (DD), not all Developmental disabilities are considered Intellectual/Developmental disabilities.

 Intellectual disability (ID) is the most common developmental disability. Children and adults with an ID have significant difficulties in both intellectual functioning (communicating, learning, problem solving) and adaptive behavior (everyday social skills, routines, hygiene). [6] Originally, this type of disability was identified through the use of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) testing. It was generally accepted that an IQ score of 70 or lower identified a person as having an intellectual disability.

 As with most things in life, Intellectual disabilities are on a spectrum. The disability can be mild or more severe. Most people with ID (85%) have mild intellectual disabilities, live fairly self-sufficient lives, and may be difficult to identify in everyday life. While this may help with the idea of inclusion, it also can cause additional problems such as lack of access to resources, unemployment, and problems with law enforcement due to being misidentified or misunderstood.

 So why do we say “IDD”?

When we try to label and diagnose human beings in nearly any situation, it quickly becomes apparent that people don’t fit into boxes. Since there is a significant overlap between Developmental and Intellectual disabilities, and IQ tests are notoriously unreliable and biased against marginalized populations, legislators added an eligibility criteria called “adaptive behavior testing.” By looking at a person’s daily life challenges in a practical way, doctors and other diagnosticians can help identify people living with mild intellectual disabilities who may not have otherwise been identified. Therefore, we communicate about this diverse group of people as people who have Intellectual/Developmental disabilities (IDD).

Prevalence and Facts

  • 1 in 6 children in the United States have some type of developmental disability. [3] This includes ADHD and learning disabilities. [4]

  • When the definition of Developmental disability is more refined and does not include ADHD or other learning disabilities, the rate of DD in the United States is around 6%. [4]

  • 2-3% of Americans have some form of an Intellectual disability when the determination is based on an IQ score of 70 or lower. [5]

  • Cerebral Palsy (CP) is the most common motor disability in childhood. [7]

  • Intellectual Disability is the most common developmental disability. [3]

  • Males are more likely to be diagnosed with a developmental disability. [3]

  • Developmental disabilities occur among all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. [1]

  • Males are twice as likely to have any Developmental disability (DD) than females. [3]

  • Children living in poverty are more likely to have a Developmental disability. [3]

If you or someone you care about is wondering if you may have an Intellectual/Developmental Disability, read more here and let us know if you’d like to talk with an ACL Advocate to explore your options.


March is Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities Month!

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan made a public proclamation that March would be recognized as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to “increase public awareness of the needs and potential of Americans with developmental disabilities” and to urge citizens to provide “the encouragement and opportunities [people with developmental disabilities] need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.”

Thanks to the work and dedication of self advocates, families, and allies, the “potential” of people with developmental disabilities is being realized daily, and our world looks very different today than it did in 1987. Here at the ACL, we are spending this year’s IDD Awareness Month focusing on the social issues that continue to cause barriers for people with IDD while celebrating the successes, contributions, and individuality of our self advocates. 

If you have a picture, video, or story you would like to share to celebrate with us this month, you can email it to us for use on our blog and social media, or you can post it yourself using #ACLcommunitylife

Remember to like us, follow us, subscribe, and follow us some more!

FAQ: Annual Meeting versus Winter Party?

Occasionally, we hear the same question from several people. Our new blog is helping us to answer FAQs when they come up. The latest question we’ve been hearing is:

I want to skip the Annual Meeting and just come to the Winter Party. What time does the Winter Party begin?

Good news! They are happening simultaneously, so you don’t have to worry about timing.

We also have noticed over the last couple years that our Annual Meeting was…well, a little dry. So, this year we are trying a new strategy. We are interweaving elements of the Annual Meeting into our Winter Party. We are hoping that it will liven things up while keeping all of our members and friends informed. If you aren’t looking closely, you won’t even know that the meeting is happening all around you. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Mocktails (fun, non-alcoholic drinks)

  • An entertaining and informative multimedia presentation with pictures, video, and info about the ACL

  • Dinner (Delicious and hearty soup provided by Live Well, Eat Smart caterers)

  • Mingle with current board members, board candidates, and ACL staff

  • Talk with friends

  • Listen to music

  • If you are an ACL member, you will be handed a ballet and info sheet when you enter the door.

  • Learn about board candidates by watching short videos mixed into our multimedia presentation on the “big screen.”

  • After dinner, stay to sing, listen, or sing-along from your chair to our very own karaoke party. If you know a song you want to sing right now, email it to Caitlin, so she can have it cued up for you.

Let us know if you have any other questions. We’ll see you at the party!

Practice soft skills for college success

Recently, an infographic that one of our former interns created showed up on The Colorado Initiative for Inclusive Higher Education’s (IN!) website. We were all pretty excited, mostly, because we thought that was pretty cool.

But, it also got us thinking about inclusive higher education. There are tons of economic and financial reasons for a push towards inclusive colleges and universities. You can read about some of them here. However, we are also aware that fewer than 35 percent of students with disabilities who enroll in a four-year college graduate within eight years.[1] There’s many reasons for this, but rarely is the reason because these students have an intellectual disability. Some recent information [2] [3] shows that students who are graduating from Special Education programs lack the basic soft skills necessary to navigate the pressures and responsibilities of college. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy has identified six major areas for teaching soft skills to students in transition: [4]

  1. Communication

  2. Enthusiasm and attitude

  3. Teamwork

  4. Networking

  5. Problem solving and critical thinking

  6. Professionalism

These skills and the opportunity to practice them are a likely indicator of students’ success in higher education. The earlier your kids with disabilities (and without) begin learning these skills the better. Set your goals for your children high and start practicing today!

ACL's new website is live!


Our website team has toiled away for months to bring you ACL’s new website!

You can now:

We are very grateful to those who assisted us through beta testing. Our website beta-testers told us they found our new site to be visually appealing, user-friendly, and informative about the breadth of the ACL’s work in our community.

Take some time now to learn something new about the ACL!

ReWriting Our Worlds Afternoon Writing Workshop

ReWriting Our Worlds is organized around mythologist Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. The Hero/Heroine answers the call to the journey, is tested and challenged as she/he sees the allies, obstacles, mentors and gifts of the journey and then has to find a way to integrate the adventure into their daily lives. We are already all on this road, this class will give us the language and format to make better sense of it as we deepen our understanding of our personal story.

No writing experience is required. Our writing sessions are guided by readings and writing prompts.  Please bring a laptop or notebook along with a water bottle.

 Saturday, December 1st from 1-5 PM at the ACL in Lafayette.

For more information, contact facilitator Anna Stewart at