Direct Support Professional: Bridge Builders of Community Inclusion

Direct support Professional’s (DSP’s) have an important role in assisting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in becoming a part of their community. There are three areas we will explore in increasing successful community integration. Understanding the meaning of community inclusion is an important first step. Second, one must understand the significance of natural supports for people having developmental and or intellectual disabilities. The third step is community bridge building. There are many speed bumps that exist on the road to community integration, but integration can be achieved with an open mind, patience and positive attitude.

What is Community Inclusion

Community Inclusion is sharing in community life specific to four areas. The first area is to have a physical presence in one’s community. This could be living in a normal house in a normal subdivision with all types of neighbors. Cultural integration is important as it also helps establish a common likeness and acceptance. Cultural norms may favor a particular type of job or go to a specific church. Connections with others are an important, necessary ingredient of inclusion. Relationships with all kinds of people not just people with disabilities is a requirement in inclusion. Just as important is self-determination in forming relationships and choosing activities. Activities and acquaintances should be choices of the participant and not based upon convenience of a DSP.

Equally important is to understand what is not community integration. If a participant is on a van with a group of other program participants in the community, the fact that they are on a van with others in the community is not community integration. Just because a person goes to the Day Program for people with disabilities in the community, it is not considered real integration. If a person lives in a regular community or subdivision, this is not necessarily community integration. Community inclusion requires active participation in one’s community, with all types of community members.

Natural Supports

Natural supports are merely life. We all have natural relationships in life. This means we have community connections and relationships with all types of people. Examples of natural support are friendships with coworkers, being friends with various church congregation members, having family relationships, having a neighbor that brings soup when you are feeling ill. Natural supports build a sense of interdependence with others. Interdependence is a mutually beneficial connection between two people. These relationships are based on commonality and a sense of mutual respect. Interdependent relationships act to provide safety and security for the participant. Participants with community associations and natural support are less likely to face abuse, neglect and exploitation than those who do not have connections.

Community Bridge Building

The DSP assists the participant in building connections with community members, friends and community organizations. The DSP serves an important role in educating the community on the importance of acceptance and understanding. One of the best things a DSP can do is be a proper role model for behavior and communication for those they support. DSP’s should not assume that participants understand socially acceptable ways to interact and make good first impressions. DSP should keep in mind that participants face stigma and are viewed unfairly based on media portrayals or simple ignorance. Relationships take time to build, and DSP’s should encourage frequent community involvement

Community Integration Program for The Well Being of People With Developmental Disabilities

For normal human beings, conducting their day-to-day activities is a form of living life. However there is a section of people who are unable to do so without help. Even if they are able to do on their own, it is accompanied with great pain and labor. For such people, also called disabled people, it is convenient for their families to lodge them in institutions against their wishes – institutions which were built primarily to help them and take care of them but in truth have evolved to be breeding ground for maltreatment, abuse and neglect.

People with developmental disability are the ones who have long-term medical problems that could be due to genetic and prenatal issues or preterm birth with the effect that going through the daily routine of life also becomes a major concern for them and their families. They are people who either have physical or mental disabilities or have both.

Community integration is the process of being a part of the community with self-dignity where each and every person enjoys certain rights and liberties. It is the right for all people irrespective of their mental and physical health, race, caste, religion, sex or age.

Community integration for people with developmental disabilities revolves around this concept that disabled people too have equal rights to live in a community just like other people instead of being locked up in institutions unnecessarily. Even the United Nations has risen up to this cause and many western countries like the United States passing laws have passed laws that protect the right of people with mental and physical disabilities – laws that permit disabled people to co-exist in the community and not be institutionalized for indefinite period. Such laws helps the community to accept developmentally disabled people as active members of their community and help them live under a supervised community integration program that involves equal opportunities of education, employment, housing, healthcare and recovery.

The program is setup in a way that people with developmental disabilities are able to use the local transportation, live in supported apartments or specially built housing for the disabled, access local schools and hospitals and enjoy financial independence when they get hired by employers who create jobs for disabled people.

As the first step towards integrating disabled people with the community, young children or adults with special needs continue to stay with their parents and family. However, many of the youngsters find it difficult to do so with passing years. At times it also becomes stressful for the ageing parents to care for their child on a continual basis. In such cases, group homes become a viable option as housing for the disabled. Since these homes have many people with similar special needs residing in one locality, it proves to be the perfect setting for them to gain confidence and live life on their own.

Some of them also opt for assisted living for developmentally disabled where they can live in their own apartment, cook their own food and receive assistance with regards to certain daily activities like bathing, cleaning the house, getting their daily dose of medicines and other such activities . These assisted apartments hire the services of unskilled or specialized people as per requirement to deliver these services.

The program also consists of community integration for seniors so that they are able to move out of institutions and nursing homes and live in the community independently with dignity and enjoy equal rights as other people. They could choose to live in assisted homes or otherwise and are able to access medical resources, meals etc as part of the community integration program.