Learn More ad
cfc ad

Supports Intensity Scale trainers in their own words!

The AAIDD SIS training program, launched in 2005, now encompasses a portfolio of offerings including one-day orientation and guided practices; training SIS interviewers; Train-the-Trainer programs; interviewer reliability review; and data integrity assurance on SIS interviews. Here we present three senior SIS trainers who have traveled across the United States and Canada to train disability professionals to become reliable SIS interviewers, and realize the full potential of the Supports Intensity Scale for people with intellectual disabilities.”  
Natalie Ihli
What do you like best about being a SIS trainer?
”What I like best about being a trainer for the Supports Intensity Scale is the opportunity to learn the perspectives of professionals working with people with disabilities across the country.  It's great to be able to teach people the unique point of view SIS provides—a positive and comprehensive approach to assisting individuals. No longer do support teams have to focus on what a person can or can't do. The question becomes: What support does the person need to do a task? The SIS assists individuals and their teams in thinking more about to be of assistance to a person to help him or her succeed.
”I think when people first see the Supports Intensity Scale, they think it looks fairly easy to use.  The training helps reveal the standard to which the SIS is completed.  Thinking about every person being assessed at a level of success expected of all of us can truly shift their thinking about people with disabilities.  Once we have tackled that in training, we work on consistency in rating items.  It's so important at a state level especially, to ascertain that all interviewers are assessing reliably.”

About Natalie
Natalie Ihli is a licensed social worker and also Program Coordinator with the School-to-Work Alliance Program Academy School District 20 in Colorado Springs, CO, where she coordinates post-secondary vocational and academic opportunities for youth with disabilities. Natalie brings considerable experience in program management, community relations, and case management, and was Community Coordinator and Director for Special Projects at The Resource Exchange in Colorado before her current positions.
Being a SIS trainer and a program coordinator does not leave Natalie with much free time. However, she says, “I have managed to get in a few skiing/snow boarding days this season.  I'm also a reader and huge movie fan!”  
Karen Hoffman
What do you like best about being a SIS trainer?
”What I like best about being a SIS trainer is meeting different people and sharing how SIS can and is being used across the country and Canada. The value that SIS brings to the field is really in the attention it brings to what we as a state, agency, or care provider needs to provide, rather than what the person with disabilities can or cannot do.” 
”SIS training and its reliability testing help ensure that SIS interviews are conducted correctly.  Over time, we have noticed “procedural drift” begin to occur where shortcuts or misinterpretations begin to incorrectly influence the process.  It is not unlike the old telephone game, where you start out with a story and by the time you pass it between people, the end story does not resemble the original at all.  The continued reliability testing help keep the data true.”
About Karen
Karen is Vice President for Adult Services and Director of Research and Development at the Northwest Center in Seattle, Washington, where she oversees all vocational programs for adults with developmental disability in the greater Puget Sound and Spokane. Karen’s hobbies include photography, stained glass, and beer making.
Ruth Pellman
What do you like best about being a SIS trainer?
 “As a trainer, I love to see the positive change when a person moves to the next level of understanding of SIS and is able to expand the view of the world for other people. Recently, one of the trainees told me she was struggling with the intent of the Supports Intensity Scale and finally, in the last 20 minutes of the training, she understood what I had been trying to teach for the previous two days. A light went on not only for her professional life but also in her personal life. She went home and considered how SIS would apply to her work at home, as a mom, trying to help her children reach their potential and become independent as they grew. Research in adult learning shows that people who apply learning to their most trusted and important personal relationships integrate that learning more fully than others. Those are the moments that are great for a trainer, and also illustrate the over all value of the SIS in the field.”
“Training is the cornerstone of the success of SIS. While SIS is innovative and groundbreaking in the field of IT applications and assessments, it is in the actual interview that the core work occurs. SIS comes to life and use when the interviewer and the respondents, the person being served and their supporters discuss the items in SIS and decide on the support needs. To maximize the potential of the tool, we need to maximize the understanding of SIS and how to use it in the interview process. To do that, we have to work together and train people. Training is an ongoing process and with a tool as innovative as the SIS all of us are on an upward learning curve.”
About Ruth
Ruth is founder of Ruth Pellman Consulting Services, a company based in Canada that provides services in training, project management, and systems analysis. She is also faculty member at the Canadian Training Institute, an agency that provides training programs in crisis intervention with the hostile and aggressive individuals.
When Ruth is not training, she is a glass artist. She is owner of Renaissance Edge Glassworks and does kiln fired painted and fused stained glass. Ruth also loves to garden, cook, work refurbish old houses, and ski cross country, especially “when the conditions are right for skating on the old mill pond next to my house..
Questions for SIS trainers? Email books@aaidd.org
To learn more about SIS training, click here.