Hoarding or “Managing Collections,” It’s all in the Phrasing


Latham Centers’ staff are always thinking, “What is best for OUR clients?” Over time staff and consultants have worked together on how to best manage PWS Specific Behaviors. A common issue with people with PWS is hoarding. Patrice Carroll writes in a 2014 Blog post, “Hoarding…is a common PWS behavior.The act of gathering items usually related to a single theme is a behavior that can start very young and can progress to a problematic behavior over time. Hoarding gives people a false sense of security which is why removing items or attempting to organize them can be met with strong reactions. Moreover, the threat of losing items in their collection makes the person feel out of control and can cause an exaggerated response.”Screen shot 2016-01-13 at 9.10.41 AM
So what do we do? You see a fire hazard, they see comfort. You see piles of old toys, pieces of paper, empty shampoo bottles (insert any item here), and they see their bounty.” While Patrice continues to list helpful hints in her post, i.e. set a standard for cleanliness, put the habit into good use, appeal to their sensitive side, and utilizing online collection sites, Latham has also thought of other innovative ways to curb this habit within our Adult Residential Program.
We’ll often call a hoard a “collection”, and when it’s time to sort through the clutter, we call it “managing collections.” In addition to simply changing the title of the behavior, Latham has also created collaborative programs. A staff person will take a group of adult residents to a Thrift Store (a favorite PWS activity), and while the residents are able to get one thing to add to their collection, they also have to bring three items to donate to the Thrift Store. This lesson teaches not only collection management, but also community involvement and fiscal responsibility.
Way to go Latham staff and adult residents, for creating such a beneficial and fun program.

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