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Through the Looking Glass visits Japan!

Multiple trainings of groups from Japan visiting Through the Looking Glass over many years led to requests and sponsorship of Through the Looking Glass’ National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families staff –Drs. Nahoko Nishizawa, Sherrie Hansen and Megan Kirshbaum--to provide training in three regions of Japan from October 27-November 10, 2016: Consultation and five trainings regarding the history of the U.S. independent living movement, adaptations supporting inclusion of children with disabilities in TLG’s Early Head Start program, examples of babycare adaptations for parents with physical or vision disabilities, adapted intervention for parents with intellectual disabilities, including video intervention therapy, as well as infant mental health and family support for whole families with disabilities to almost 600 attendees from the Asahigawa-so system in Okayama, the CSPP/Alliant University Japan psychology graduate program in Tokyo, and the Muginoko community in Sapporo, Japan.  The trip to Japan was the culmination of our National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families’ Japan project.

It was surprising to find out how much impact we’d had over the years, particularly on Muginoko, a large community primarily serving children with disabilities in Sapporo, and Asahigawa-so, an even larger multi-faceted regional system serving all ages of people with disabilities which has traditionally been institutional in focus.  Our influence, as Muginoko and Asahigawa-so leadership explained, has been on regional and national public policy and practice, particularly regarding family support, understanding the importance of having people with disabilities and parents on staff, and understanding how to prepare for independent living.  Megan reports it was especially personally moving to hear how stories, many years ago, about her experience as a mother of a child with a disability had influenced mothers who now are on staff serving the next generation of families in the Muginoko community.  We visited many sites, programs and now have a much better idea of how to be helpful in the future—all three systems plan to keep sending staff to Through the Looking Glass for training.  Follow-up is underway to strengthen linkages between these systems and Japan’s own independent living movement.