RehabWire - Volume 7, Number 11, December 2005


For December, RehabWire looks at research in life skills training: teaching people with disabilities how to manage their money, their household, and their daily activities.

Featured NIDRR Grantees: 21st Century Research.

Asset Accumulation And Tax Policy Project, University of Iowa College of Law (H133A031732) led by Peter D. Blanck, PhD, JD. Edna Johnson, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project develops and disseminates a new and comprehensive body of knowledge to multiple target audiences nationwide to improve the economic independence, social empowerment, and community integration of persons with disabilities. Researchers examine systematically the relationship between tax policy and asset accumulation for persons with disabilities, and resultant improvements in economic and community integration. The project investigates the impact of multiple intervention strategies — including financial education, matched savings accounts, expanded financial services, and increased use of state and Federal tax incentives for asset and community economic development — in six states and ten pilot demonstration sites nationwide on youth in transition and adults with disabilities. This project is a collaborative effort of The Law, Health Policy, and Disability Center at the University of Iowa College of Law, Southern New Hampshire University School of Community Economic Development, the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, the World Institute on Disability, and the National Cooperative Bank Development Corporation.
Find out more at:

University of Illinois at Chicago National Research and Training Center on Psychiatric Disability, University of Illinois at Chicago (H133B050003) led by Judith A. Cook, PhD. David W. Keer, Project Officer.
Abstract: The University of Illinois at Chicago National Research and Training Center on Psychiatric Disability (UIC-NRTC) promotes access to effective consumer-centered and community-based practices for adults with serious mental illness. The Center is conducting five rigorous research projects to enhance the state of evidence-based practice (EBP) in this field: A randomized controlled trial (RCT) study of Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) to gather evidence regarding its effectiveness; an RCT to evaluate the effectiveness of BRIDGES, a 10-week peer-led education course designed to provide mental health consumers with basic education about the etiology and treatment of mental illness, self-help skills, and recovery principles; an RCT of peer support services delivered by Georgia’s Certified Peer Specialists (CPS) at consumer-run Peer Support Centers in order to determine the outcomes of service recipients; a self-directed care program in which adults with serious mental illnesses are given control of financial resources to self-direct their own recovery; and a project using data from 12 clinical trials studies of consumer-operated service programs to create a national data repository to promote research and develop scholarship in this area.
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Homeless Mentally Ill: Strategies for Maintaining Residential Stability, University of Illinois at Chicago (H133G040320) led by Christine Helfrich, PhD. David W. Keer, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project implements, evaluates, and disseminates a life skills intervention designed to increase skills necessary for maintaining housing for 230 homeless adults with psychiatric disabilities to prevent their return to the streets, reinstitutionalization, hospitalization, or jail. These skills include room and self-care management, food management, financial management, and safe community participation. This three-year project is conducted in two housing programs: supervised emergency housing and single room occupancy housing with case management. The intervention was developed based on Empowerment Theory, the Transtheoretical Model of Change, Social Learning Theory using a skills training approach, and the Model of Human Occupation. The objective of this intervention is to increase the time an individual remains housed and decrease the evictions that occur secondary to his/her inability to perform the skills and behaviors necessary to maintain housing.
Find out more at:

black and white portrait of a homeless man. Photo credit: Leroy Skalstad

Development of Intelligent Personal Activity Management and Prompting Applications for Individuals with Cognitive Disabilities, Eugene Research Institute (H133G050313) led by Thomas Keating, PhD, Richard Johnson, EdD, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project builds on the successful development of the Picture Planner icon-driven personal activity management application, supported in part by previous NIDRR funding. One of the conclusions of the field testing that led to the development and testing of that application is that there is a need for intelligent activity planning and prompting applications that combine cognitively accessible software design with innovative artificial intelligence approaches to provide smart applications for life management and decision-making. The goal of the present project is to use a consumer-driven, participatory design process to build on that foundation and develop a prototype smart planning and prompting software package for implementation on desktop and handheld platforms. The target population is individuals with significant cognitive disabilities such as mental retardation and autism. The primary outcome of this project is a field-tested and experimentally evaluated intelligent life skills management system that enables people with cognitive disabilities to improve their competence at daily activity management and enhance their community integration.
Find out more at:

Please note: These abstracts have been modified. Full, unedited abstracts, as well as any available REHABDATA citations, are available at

From the Cochrane Library
Donkoh C, Montgomery P. Independent living programs for improving outcomes for young people leaving the care system. (Protocol) The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD005558. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005558.
This is a protocol for a new review. The objective is to assess the effectiveness of independent living programmes for young people leaving state care systems in various countries. The review looks at programs in several countries for children both with and without disabilities. Visit the Cochrane Library at for more information on this and other review protocols.

New Research: Selections from REHABDATA

Davies, D., Stock, S. (2003) Utilization of computer technology to facilitate money management by individuals with mental retardation. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 38(1), 7. NARIC Accession Number: J45574.
Abstract: Describes the testing of a computer software system designed to improve the management of personal checking accounts for people with mental retardation. The prototype software provides the capacity to store and retrieve common payees, automatic posting of checks to the register, automatic balancing, and check printing. Participants’ performance on checkbook tasks using the money management software was compared to using a traditional manual checkbook approach. Results indicated that when using the software, the number of errors made in check writing, check recording, and checkbook balancing was significantly reduced compared to the traditional manual method.

black and white portrait of a man with down syndrome smiling. Photo credit: Jenny Erickson

Bellack, A. (2004) Skills training for people with severe mental illness. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 27(4), 16. NARIC Accession Number: J47596.
Abstract: Article reviews research on the effectiveness of social skills training (SST), cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and cognition remediation (CR) for people with schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses. Of the three strategies, SST had the strongest empirical support and can be considered an evidence-based treatment; however, the evidence supports its use as a specialized treatment for social impairment, not as a generic treatment for schizophrenia. While CBT does not have sufficient evidence to be recommended as an evidence-based practice at this time, it does have several elements that reflect good clinical practice with severe mental illness and should be adopted. No CR trials to date have demonstrated a clinically significant effect on community outcome.

Moseley, C., Lakin, C. (2004) Impact, 17(1): Feature issue on consumer-controlled budgets and persons with disabilities, NARIC Accession Number: O15425. Project Number: H133B031116.
Abstract: This issue focuses on promoting self-directed supports and individually managed budgets for people with disabilities. Topics include: (1) the impact of self-determination of services and supports; (2) individual budgeting, control, and support; (3) pointers for families and individuals who want to manage their own services; (4) finding, keeping, and training staff when individuals and families control the budget; (5) individual and family success stories from around the country; (6) program profiles; and (7) resources for further information.

(2005) Individual control of funding. Beach Center Newsletter, 4. NARIC Accession Number: O16034. Project Number: H133B031133.
Abstract: Newsletter of the Beach Center on Disability. This issue focuses on individual control of budgets, supports, and services. Topics include: (1) person-centered planning, individual budgets, and brokerage; (2) Medicaid waivers and individual control; (3) self-determination for individuals with significant cognitive disabilities; (4) books review: The Support Broker’s Manual; (5) Center for Self-Determination; (6) tips for consumers on how to implement control of funding; and (7) project news and resources.

Baker, B., Brightman, A. (2004) Steps to independence: Teaching everyday skills to children with special needs. NARIC Accession Number: R08407.
Abstract: Handbook provides strategies for teaching independent living skills to children with developmental disabilities. Step-by-step guidance is presented for parents to teach seven types of skills: (1) get-ready, (2) self-help, (3) toilet training, (4) play, (5) self-care, (6) home care, and (7) functional academic. Includes information to help manage challenging behavior; strengthen partnerships with the child’s teachers; and use technology, such as email, Internet communities, search engines, and software, as a source of information and support.