Latest HDI Fund for Excellence Projects: Winter 2015

We’re excited to share that in the last quarter, HDI funded the following two Fund for Excellence projects:
Dr. Dwight Irvin’s Understanding Language Environments in Community Settings in Families of Children on the Autism Spectrum and Laura Butler’s My Choice Kentucky- Exploring Supported Decision-Making in the Commonwealth.

Dr. Irvin’s project will collect data through observation on the language interactions between adults and children with autism spectrum disorders in natural settings. “The proposed work uses precise measurement tools to understand the language environments children with ASD experience in community, which will result in more accurate information to inform intervention efforts. For example, if the grocery store is the richest context for study participants, we would recommend more trips to the grocery store or increasing the complexity of language used in that setting. Conversely, if other environments are found to be depleted of language (e.g., the park), we would make recommendations to increase the richness of language in those settings.”

“The proposed research, then, allows us to begin to understand whether an ideal target for intervention may be a child’s autism severity and/or a parent’s perceptions of barriers in engaging children in language exchanges in specific settings. These results would inform us of how to best serve that families based on the multiple factors that impact children’s language environments during community activities. For comprehensive, family-centered intervention approaches to be most effective both child and caregiver factors that impact participation must be understood and addressed.”

Click here to view the final report.

Ms. Butler’s project will “focus on educating people about Supported Decision Making and other alternatives to guardianship that allow people with disabilities to maintain or increase their independence and autonomy while providing a system of support that ensures informed choice. [They] will convene a forum of interested parties to discuss specific concerns about Supported Decision Making and to aid in identifying potential barriers.”

Ms. Butler explains that, “The intent of this project is to share information about alternatives to guardianship for older adults and people with disabilities. Frequently full legal  guardianship is the only option presented to these groups and their family members. We want to let people know that Supported Decision-Making is an alternative that is increasingly being supported by groups such as the National Guardianship Association and the American Bar Association. For more information contact Laura Butler at”

Click here to view the final report.

For more information about how to apply for a Fund for Excellence grant in the next round, visit: