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from Sumer 1997 issue

Everyone Needs Support Sometimes

by Kate Moss, Family Support Specialist, TSBVI Deafblind Outreach

One of the qualities of being a human being is our ability to give and receive support. None of us is truly "independent", but rather the independence we have comes from the interdependent networks of support we build around us.

Dads and Moms need support from medical and educational professionals. They have a need to understand the diagnosis their child receives and the implications of that diagnosis; to have information about medical interventions and resources to pay for that intervention; and support in understanding the special education process, their rights within that process, and the components that make up a quality program for their child. They also need support from family and friends. They need support to ensure that their child is included in family events; that the nondisabled brothers and sisters are not shortchanged when the needs of the disabled child must take precedence over their needs; and that the whole family is welcomed in churches, schools, and other community environments. They need support from other parents of children with disabilities to give them courage, information, empathy, and a vision of what tomorrow might hold for them as a family. They need adults with disabilities to share their experiences, be a role model to their child, and to help them fashion a new dream of what their child might be as an adult.

Grandparents, siblings and other family members need support, too. Like the parents they need information, understanding, and access to resources that will help them address their own issues about having a family member with a disability. That means that professionals, other families, and people with disabilities need to reach out to these individuals, too.

That children and adults with disabilities need support, sometimes seems obvious; however, we often view it only in terms of medical, educational, or rehabilitative support. They need support to connect with other people with disabilities, to be included in the community, and to view themselves as having something valuable to share with those individuals who are not labeled "disabled".

Surprisingly, professionals need support, too. They need support to learn new skills and to be able to research and develop new techniques. They need support from families and people with disabilities to be able to acknowledge that they may not have an answer or know how solve certain problems that arise. They need support from their colleagues when all their efforts aren't bringing the result that is desired; when a child or a client who they work with becomes ill or dies; or when their own life or family is in trouble.

We all need to get comfortable reaching out for support and being able to offer to support to those around us. None of us can really go it alone. Whether we work through a formal support group, share with a friend over coffee, or connect over the Internet, building circles of support makes life better for everyone.

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from Sumer 1997 issue

Last Revision: July 30, 2002

The URL of this page is: 97/support.html