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AWARE Ink Newsletter

  • jpeterson

AWARE’s New Polk House Meets the Most Challenging Needs with Technology

Updated: Feb 26


AWARE recently opened a specialized intensive behavior therapy program in Anaconda, Montana, called the Polk House. It’s designed to meet the needs of individuals at risk of losing community-based services or possible placement at the Intensive Behavior Center, formerly known as the Montana Developmental Center in Boulder (Pictured right, Diane Black, AWARE board certified behavior analyst).


In partnership with Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, the new program uses specialized behavioral services to stabilize individuals in a community-based setting. The home incorporates video technology allowing Diane Black, AWARE board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), to view a live video feed of the home and coach staff through certain behaviors and scenarios via a Bluetooth earpiece.

The Polk House is currently serving its second resident who has been there since mid-December and is making headway toward her treatment goals. We have received positive feedback on her progress from her mother and from state officials.


The individual being served has a great disposition and is full of laughter. She loves arts/crafts, coloring, and is quite the dancer – often encouraging staff to dance along-side her. She’s especially fond of taking rides in the van to see the nearby ducks at Washoe Park, and she loves listening to all varieties of music.


As part of her treatment, we encourage her to take part in the leisure activities she enjoys. She uses visual supports and an iPad application called TouchChat to communicate her preferences. While she understands conversations, she struggles to communicate her needs and desires with others. Understandably, miscommunication causes frustration and in her case an inability to properly regulate emotions. The iPad and visual charts help minimize behavioral outbursts and possible harm to herself or others.

While the technology being used in this home is certainly not new, the application of it is. It allows AWARE’s BCBA to have continual oversight and analysis of the individual’s treatment while making adjustments to care as needed. Additionally, it keeps the individual in a community-based setting that allows for a streamlined transition to a lower level of care when appropriate. It’s also more cost effective than placement in an institutional setting.

Consistent with our Unconditional Care Principal of “We take on and stick with the hardest challenges,” AWARE is excited to deliver this kind of care. We’ve long been advocates for community-based care, and the success of this specialized service for highly intensive needs is a testament to that.

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