We have all been there. We have all been in a situation where we are uncomfortable, not sure how to act, and nervous about how those around us will respond. And so, to cope, we mimic the social cues of others. We do this without even realizing it! Only when we finally feel comfortable, and no longer threatened, do we finally slip back into ourselves.  This phenomenon is often called Social Masking or sometimes Camouflaging. For those with hidden disabilities, this process is quite a bit different and often much more damaging to the psyche. Hiding who we are is , quite plainly, an emotionally and physically exhausting experience.  For many neurodivergent people, this is a daily battle.

Social survival strategies vary greatly from person to person, in general. But Social Masking is far more complicated than simple changes to feel comfortable. It involves combining anything from imitating smiles or even pre-scripting conversations. While any one of these alone sound like something everyone has done at one point or another, continually disregarding natural personal behaviors is  extremely damaging and can lead to serious health consequences.
So how can we learn to recognize social masking and how can we learn to help others to feel more comfortable and avoid this.  While recognizing our own bias is a great step in the right direction, education is key to understanding how to best to support others. And how can we avoid it ourselves?
Most people often feel the need to go along with the crowd. The pressure to conform is often stronger than people realize. Neurodivergent people often feel misunderstood, due to their behaviors often seeming more noticeable. They can feel under-supported and misunderstood in many social situations.  In these cases, pressure to conform may not just to avoid feeling singled out, but may even feel like a survival tactic.

There are stages to masking that can help us to discover if masking is an issue and where support may be needed.


Motivation: Masking is usually done to blend in for a variety of reasons. This could be a new friendship or relationship of any type, to avoid mistreatment, to get a new job or further current employment, to attract a partner, or simply any situation in which one feels they must hide their differences for safety.


Masking: A combination of compensation and masking techniques are employed in order to blend in. A few examples are disguising stimming behaviors, faking or forcing eye contact, or imitating facial expressions. Mimicking gestures is common and even hiding whole interests and feigning excitement over hobbies or topics you are not truly interested in. Every person is unique in what will help them to feel comfortable in hiding their true expressions.


Consequences: Going against your sensory needs can cause meltdowns once you are in a safe space. But continually practicing masking can trigger depression, anxiety, exhaustion, loss of identity, delayed identification of abilities, extreme risk of burnout, and increased risk of suicidal ideation.

The truth is, masking is difficult to detect. The whole point of it is so that you can “fit in”. But. when you are spending time masking your true behaviors and identity, you are not investing time developing who you are truly meant to be.  Efforts contrary to natural tendencies end up triggering social overload anyways! While there are many situations in which those without neurotypical tendencies are not made to feel comfortable, a lot of this is due to others simply not knowing how to support them. The sooner we can all learn more about ourselves, the sooner we can have the knowledge and empathy to help others. Below are a few tips that can help others feel more comfortable showing their true selves.

  • Allow stimming behavior.
  • Encourage engaging in special interests unique to each individual.
  • Encourage clothing that feels comfortable, rather than what is a fashion statement
  • Support self-advocating for sensory needs
  • Be okay with things like headphones and fidget objects.
  • Accept personal boundaries and realize that physical touch is not always for everyone.
  • Use language that doesn’t increase stigma, but promotes a positive sense of ones self!

If you have any questions about how to support those in our community most at risk for social masking, please contact us at,relate%20to%20masking%20as%20well.

Why Activity and Day Centers are so Important for IDD Family and Clients

According the the National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA), there are more than 7,500 Adult Day Centers in the United States. For many, day programs for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities are the preferable long-term care option, as the provide a safe and inclusive place for social interaction, mental stimulation, physical activities, and nutritious meals. But these valuable resources are often under-utilized. So why are these Day Habilitation and Activity Centers so important and why should we work harder to support them.

  1. Caregiver Confidence – Providing care for someone with developmental disabilities can be emotionally draining and even a physical challenge. Caregiver burnout is a real and reoccurring issue. Everyone needs a break and attending and Activity Center or a Day Center can help provide a safe place to relax also engaging with like minds. Day centers offer respite support for families and caregivers, allowing them time to tend to personal needs, responsibilities, and self-care. Respite care not only strengthens the family unit but also prevents caregiver burnout, ultimately benefiting the individual receiving care as well.
  2. Socialization in a Safe Place – Day centers for individuals with developmental disabilities play a vital role in offering comprehensive support and services tailored to their unique needs. These centers create a safe and nurturing environment that fosters personal growth and development. Services offered may include therapeutic activities, skill-building programs, educational assistance, vocational training, and opportunities for social interaction. Such holistic approaches aim to enhance the quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities and ensure their active participation in society.
  3. Better Quality of Life – In the dark Alaska winters, isolation can be a significant issue, and individuals with developmental disabilities may experience heightened feelings of seclusion. Day centers can act as social hubs, promoting inclusion and community engagement. By providing a space for social interaction, shared experiences, and common interests, these centers foster a sense of belonging and combat feelings of loneliness. Additionally, they facilitate connections with the broader community, bridging the gap between individuals with developmental disabilities and the rest of society.

Activity and Day centers for individuals with developmental disabilities are indispensable resources that promote inclusion, social engagement, and personal growth. By offering specialized support and services, these centers empower individuals to lead fulfilling lives and contribute to their communities.  Bright Horizon Homes supports an activity center that is free for day habilitation and often hosts activities for their clients and those in the community! Be sure you to seek out a local activity center or day center in you area to see what they hae to offer! Chances are you will find support there in more ways than one.

Be sure to check out or any of out social media pages to find out more information.,physical%20activities%20and%20nutritious%20meals.

Disability Pride Month

Get ready to celebrate and spread the cheer because it’s Disability Pride Month! July is a month dedicated to embracing the empowerment, identity, and achievements of disabled individuals. But what is Disability Pride Month? How is this different from Disability Awareness Month in October? And why celebrating it is important for promoting inclusivity, fostering self-acceptance, and spreading a contagious spirit of joy.

Disability Pride Month is a celebration that emerged in 1990 when the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed on July 26. This law “prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places.” July now serves as a time to honor and amplify the voices and experiences of disabled individuals, promoting self-acceptance and challenging societal misconceptions. It is a month to celebrate the diverse abilities, strengths, and resilience of disabled people.

This spirited month encourages disabled individuals and their allies to come together, share their stories, and uplift one another. Since 1 in 4 Americans have a disability, this is one of our largest “minority” groups. And yet, there is still so much work to be done to support and achieve equity where disabled people are concerned. So why does celebrating Disability Pride Month Matter so much?

  1. Promoting Self-Acceptance and Empowerment: Celebrating Disability Pride Month is a powerful way to encourage self-acceptance and foster a sense of empowerment among disabled individuals. It provides a platform to celebrate their unique identities, share what they are proud of, embrace their abilities, and challenge the notion that disability diminishes their worth or potential. By embracing pride, individuals with disabilities can inspire others and ignite a spirit of self-empowerment.
  2. Fostering Inclusivity and Understanding: Disability Pride Month promotes inclusivity by encouraging society to understand and celebrate the diverse experiences of disabled individuals. By celebrating the achievements, talents, and contributions of disabled people, we challenge stereotypes and cultivate empathy, creating a more inclusive and compassionate society. It encourages us to recognize that disability is a natural part of human diversity.
  3. Amplifying Disability Rights Advocacy: Celebrating Disability Pride Month serves as a catalyst for advocacy and social change. It amplifies the voices of disabled individuals and advocates for equal rights, accessibility, and opportunities. The positive narratives around disability encourage policymakers, businesses, and communities to create more inclusive environments, improve accessibility, and ensure that disabled individuals have equal access to education, employment, and social participation.
  4. Spreading a Spirit of Joy and Unity: Disability Pride Month creates an atmosphere of joy, celebration, and unity. It offers a chance for disabled individuals and their allies to come together, share their stories, and build a sense of community. This fosters a positive environment that not only celebrates the achievements of disabled individuals but also inspires others to embrace diversity and create a more inclusive world.

Disability Pride Month is a time to celebrate accomplishments that embrace the uniqueness, strength, and achievements of disabled individuals. By celebrating this month, we can challenge societal barriers, inspire positive change, and highlight the need for a real permanent change in our conversations surrounding disabled peoples. Together, we can create a world that embraces diversity, values inclusion, and ensures that every individual can live a life filled with pride, dignity, and happiness.,discrimination%20against%20people%20with%20disabilities.,local%20government’%20programs%20and%20services.

Why and How to Celebrate Disability Pride Month 2023

Unearthing the Perfect Care Coordinator in Alaska

When it comes to managing healthcare needs, finding the right care coordinator is crucial. A care coordinator serves to organize a client’s care activities and acts as a vital link between clients, guardians, healthcare providers, and support services. In Alaska, where everything can be a tad further than it seems, finding the right care coordinator can help to greatly enhance the quality of care received. Hopefully the following tips can help you navigate finding the perfect care coordinator in the Last Frontier!

  1. Embrace Your Inner Sherlock: Before embarking on your search for a care coordinator, it is important to understand your specific needs. Take the time to assess the level of assistance and support you or your loved one requires. Consider aspects such as daily living skills, communication, behavior management, and social interaction. Understand the level of assistance you require and leave no stone unturned as you navigate the vast Alaskan landscape of healthcare services.
  2. Seek Advice from Bears: Who knows the Alaskan healthcare scene better than the formidable bears? Okay, maybe they don’t actually provide counsel, but it’s worth asking around and seeking recommendations from fellow Alaskans who also “bear” the challenge of finding the right care coordinator! Start your search by seeking recommendations from healthcare providers, friends, family, or local support groups. Their firsthand experiences and insights can provide valuable information about potential care coordinators in Alaska. They might just point you in the direction of a care coordinator who’s more reliable than a salmon run.
  3. Brave the Wilderness of Online Reviews: Venture into the untamed wilderness of online reviews. Consult online platforms like Facebook. There are several different groups dedicated to waiver services in Alaska. You can also search websites such as Care Coordination Resource of Alaska.! Just remember to bring a compass, sturdy boots, and a healthy dose of skepticism. While the internet can be a mountain of mixed opinions, it can also provide valuable insights from fellow adventurers who have tread this path before. If you need extra help just contact us at Bright Horizon Homes!
  4. Are They a Sourdough: Once you have identified potential care coordinators, evaluate their credentials and experience. Check if they are licensed or certified professionals with specialized training in developmental disabilities. Assess their experience in the field, including the duration of their practice as care coordinators and their familiarity with the unique challenges faced by individuals with developmental disabilities. The one who can hook the most Sockeye while simultaneously coordinating your medical appointments deserves serious consideration.
  5. Consider Compatibility and Personal Connection: A strong personal connection and compatibility between the care coordinator and the individual with developmental disabilities are crucial for a successful partnership. Schedule meetings or interviews with potential care coordinators to assess their approach, communication style, and willingness to listen and understand your unique situation. It is important to feel comfortable and confident in their ability to advocate for your needs and goals.
  6. Review Client Testimonials: Client testimonials can provide valuable insights into the quality of care coordination services. Ask potential care coordinators for references from individuals or families they have previously supported. Reach out to these references to gain a better understanding of their experiences, the effectiveness of the care coordination provided, and overall satisfaction levels.
  7. Evaluate Cultural Sensitivity and Community Involvement: Alaska is known for its rich cultural diversity and close-knit communities. When selecting a care coordinator, consider their cultural sensitivity and involvement within the local community. A care coordinator who understands and respects the unique cultural values, traditions, and resources available in Alaska will be better equipped to provide culturally competent care coordination services.
  8. Panning for Insurance Coverage and Cost: When it comes to finances, Alaska has a rich history of gold mining. Channel your inner prospector and inquire about costs and coverage. If a care coordinator can provide you with great nuggets of information about fees and insurance coverage, you’ve hit the jackpot!
  9. Conduct In-Person Meetings: Whenever possible, arrange in-person meetings with potential care coordinators. This will allow you to observe their interactions, assess their communication skills, and gauge their level of commitment. In-person meetings also provide an opportunity to ask specific questions related to your needs and get a better sense of their overall approach. If a prospective care coordinator can guide you through the treacherous terrains of both healthcare coordination and bear encounters, you may have found a true gem.

In the vast expanse of Alaska, finding the perfect care coordinator can be an adventure of its own. Finding the right care coordinator for developmental disabilities requires thorough research, evaluation, and consideration of personal needs and preferences. By understanding your specific requirements, seeking referrals, evaluating credentials, considering compatibility, and reviewing client testimonials, you can identify a care coordinator who will meet your needs.


Supporting the Mental Health of those with IDD

Working to provide adequate mental health seems to be a common trending challenge for people in many areas. From stigmas, to long wait lists, finding the right care provider can be difficult for anyone. However, providing the  specialized type of mental health care that those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) require is becoming and increasingly common challenge for all who work in this field. Along with life’s common emotional challenges, anxiety and depression can make live for those living with IDD much more vulnerable. It is a commonly underserved area of psychology.

Often, depression in those with IDD goes undiagnosed or simply mistreated as the signs and symptoms are often so different from that of a neurotypical person. People with IDD often don’t have as many things going on in their lives that would help them take their minds off of stressful things. They may argue with caregivers more. They may not want to socialize as much as before. Taking care to view individual habits is key in noticing if mental health is plaguing your loved one. Waiting for help from a professional can be agonizing and difficult, often leaving caregivers feeling lost and confused.

While mental health is not something you can totally avoid or often help on your own, what can we do to help those in need? Below are a few  ways you can help to encourage and support a loved one while awaiting help.

  1. Stick to an active routine: Everyone does better when they understand what is expected through their day.  When you develop regular opportunities to be active, you stimulate your brain to process things differently. You also encourage your brain to create new neural pathways. Interacting with others and being active tends to have a positive outcome.
  2. Actively seek out non-verbal stress relief rituals: Everyone has nonverbal habits which they perform in order boost their own spirits. Help the person to identify healthy ways that they can relax, and support them so they can relax more. They are particularly helpful to people with intellectual disabilities who cannot find solace in the written or spoken word. Noticing what helps a person with IDD can encourage personal daily habits of self care.
  3. Promote independence: Studies have shown how increasing independence can improve quality of life for IDD individuals as well as boost their mental health. Most experiencing mental health crisis decrease their own personal care, which only worsen their symptoms.
  4. Be honest and inclusive: It is difficult to talk about difficult things in most any situation. Many caregivers find themselves quite unable to be honest or to include and involve the person with a developmental disability.  Simply understanding that their feelings are acknowledged and that help is offered is useful to anyone with mental health issues.
  5. You are doing things right: Referrals for consultation with mental health specialists are typically difficult to determine and are often feel like they were made late. It is challenging to decide when a mental health crisis is occurring and noticing when additional help is required. Building awareness and continuing conversations relating to the mental health needs of people with IDD is critical. . As we work together to increase knowledge surrounding this need, we can better advocate for those we work the and those we love!
  6. Surround Yourself with Like Minded Individuals:  Being around those who are experiencing similar difficulties is often the key to discovering new paths to healing. Though everyone’s path will be different, having people to confide in can support you while helping others. If you are looking for a new support group don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Bright Horizon Homes!


Further Reading



Developmental Disabilities in Adults and Care Plan Tips

The needs of adults with developmental disabilities can vary. This means that the
care plan for our loved one’s case of developmental disability can also differ.
Sometimes, they can stand on their own. They can improve more and be
independent as they continue with therapy and treatment. Other times, they can
call for a more specialized set of care, yet still continue to live with us. In other cases,
long-term residential care is necessary. This can depend on the quality of life that our
loved one has at the present. We should also consider the growing needs of our loved

We’ve gathered tips that can be helpful in planning the care for our elderly loved ones with
developmental disabilities.

  1. Review long-term care guidelines provided by the state: Information about rights and provisions helps keep our loved ones safe. It guides us on qualities to look for in a residential home. Our loved ones
    can have complex needs. Seeing these necessities provided is of utmost importance.
  2. Ask for the physician’s advice: Our loved one’s attending physician may be able to tell us on the direction and the options we can take in long-term care. Based on the physician’s
    recommendations, we can further plan and coordinate with other health care professionals about our loved one’s long-term care plan.
  3. Contact care coordinators: Looking for residential homes in Wasilla, Alaska can be made easier with the help of a care coordinator. Care coordinators can help lay down the best possible option for our loved ones’ care needs. They can answer our questions and give us a realistic view of what’s going to happen when our loved one transitions to long-term residential care.
  4. Consider Medicaid waiver services: We can’t always sustain our loved one’s needs on our own, especially when it comes to long-term care. Check for your state’s eligibility requirements. This can help us provide our loved ones with quality care at a price we can sustain.

Considering our best possible options help us and our loved ones with the transitions they may go through such as residential care. Bright Horizon
Homes helps you plan for your loved one’s long-term care. We provide developmental disability care services in Alaska. Coordinate with us today.