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Consumer is used by the California Department of Developmental Services to define a client that has developmental
disabilities and is a utilizer of services.

For this web site the consumer population is related to the adult and adolescent population that are living in group homes; although some of the information does relate to the pediatric population and much could be applied to family caregiving situations. The reason this discussion has centered on the adolescent/ adult consumers is this population tends to be neglected when searches are being done on sensory processing. As the consumer ages, the thinking by many professionals is that any changes that would happen from sensory processing interventions have already occurred. Occupational therapists often think that the older clients' conditions are static and they will not have dynamic responses to treatment.

But my thinking is that when a great deal of money and resources are focused on the pediatric population, much of this information does not travel with the consumer when they leave the school settings and even within the school settings and less attention is given to the middle school and high school special needs students. With the increasing population of autism diagnosis, this becomes important since sensory processing issues are such a huge part of these clients' behaviors.

Consumer Profiles

I currently consult with nine group homes; 63% of the consumers have transfered from large state developmental centers where they often resided for the majority of their lives. 37% have come from home settings or Rady Children's Hospital's
Helen Bernardy Center for Fragile Children. Four homes have consumers with substantial disabilities: severe physical disabilities and cognitive limitations. Some consumers have cerebral palsy with contractures from years of spasticity, visual limitations, many are G-tube fed, and most are non-verbal. At the other homes, consumers are at a higher level cognitively and physically but they have severe behavioral issues and some with a dual medical diagnosis of mental illness.

Goals

The primary goal at each house is to improve the quality of life of each consumer, to appreciate each consumer's individual personality and understand what they have to offer to all that come into their life. The staff are being trained in using interventions to elicit positive behavioral and active physical responses.