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Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

The History and Evolution of Behavioral Approaches
and Positive Behavioral Interventions

Derrick Dufresne

Roommate Matching

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Derrick Dufresne: It's amazing to me that we don't look more at the idea of matching. And I'm not just talking about matching of people with disabilities with other people with disabilities, there's a whole burgeoning movement now about shared living. It's the idea – why don't we find somebody that somebody would like to live with?

Just group homes for just a second. How would your neighborhood react if I said we were going to put in a group home of attorneys? Can you picture a group home of attorneys? What would happen is a group of attorneys would be together and somebody would say "Pass the salt" and they'd say "Depose me." "How was your day?" "Find it out in discovery".

It would be bizarre but yet we tend to think we can group people together because of their diagnosis, rather than not simple – do they like each other? Do they have any common interests?

And then what we need to do is not buy places that we're going to have to finance for 40 years, not make decisions in absentia of who we know is going to live there because it doesn't always work out. And I say this all the time to parents, I say to staff, I say it to advocates, "No harm, no foul. They didn't like each other. At least they weren't married. It was a lease. It wasn't a purchase."

And what we have to do is to stop being so down on ourselves as long as we're respectful. As long as we didn't force people or coerce people into living together. We don't know if it's going to work out. We just don't know. It's a process of discovery, and most people can identify...any of us who have lived with roommates we couldn't stand. Any people that said "I do" and then the day after thought I don't. I mean we're used to this. And if it works out, great.

And it isn't just that if we do all of our planning, it's going to work out. Some of the things that staff have to deal with, including me, is we spend time. We have the people meet each other. We have meet and greet. They go out to dinner. They even have trial visits and it's going well. You don't know until you live with somebody. It's one of the reasons why living with somebody that you're in love with before marriage doesn't guarantee you're going to have a happy marriage. We don't know. It's discovery.

If I could say any one thing about roommates is that we don't know, we don't know, but we have to try to let people tell us, "I don't want him. I don't want her." Because every time we force it, then we have another behavior problem and then we have a plan and then we have to increase our budget and then we have to find more staff. And we could avoid a lot of this if we just listened to what people are telling us through their behavior.

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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.