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The Top Ten Actions You, As Parents, Can Take Today…

  1. Maintain regular contact with your state or county developmental disability agency. Ask if your son/daughter has been referred for services. Check to see what services your child is eligible to receive. Are his/her and your own preferences known to the Department?
  2. Contact your state legislators if you’ve been told there is no money for services. Make them aware of the backlog of people waiting for services. Funding cutbacks and freezes may be the reason. They vote on the budget. Let them know how their vote affects you and your family.
  3. Maintain regular contact with your state/county Vocational Rehabilitation agency. Ask if your son/daughter has been referred for services. Don’t assume if your son/daughter has a developmental disability that s/he cannot work. Supported employment services are designed for people who need long-term assistance finding and keeping a job.
  4. Become familiar with the availability of low income housing in your community. Above everything else, adults with disabilities who have to survive on government subsidies like SSI are poor. Your son/daughter may not be able to afford a decent apartment even if the supports are in place to live there.
  5. Brainstorm with your family or talk to friends and relatives about potential job opportunities for your son/daughter. Even working five hours a week can be a head start to developing positive work skills, increasing self-confidence, and making friends. Use your own connections. Think about how you got your first job. Don’t forget volunteer work. Animal shelters, senior citizen meal programs, libraries, and schools all use volunteers.
  6. Create and encourage a “circle of friends” for your son/daughter that includes people without disabilities. These “bridging” relationships are important in that they allow people access to a broader network of people and resources.
  7. Encourage your son/daughter to participate in home and community life. If s/he lived on his/her own, what would s/he need to know how to do? Pick one important item a week and work on it. Planning meals, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, using the telephone, paying a bill, clothes shopping, entertaining friends…
  8. Make two lists. On one list take stock of all the things you or someone else does for your son/daughter. On the other list, write down things s/he does for him/herself. Go through the entire day from waking up in the morning (does she wake up to an alarm clock?) to going to bed at night (who decides when that is?). What duties or responsibilities can be moved from the first list to the second list? What would need to happen for your child to become more responsible for himself?
  9. Become familiar with the services to adults in your area. Make an appointment with one of their representatives to learn more about their organization, specific services, types of funding, or the latest developments in human services. Is what you have in mind for your son/daughter even offered in your community? Are your ideas for services outdated? Is there a service not being offered that you feel would benefit your child and others in your community? Become knowledgeable about the “art of the possible”.
  10. And finally, get support for yourself. Isolation can lead to despair. Others are struggling with many of the same issues. If your son/daughter is still in school, ask a teacher to put you in touch with other parents. Surf the net, borrow literature and read about the latest developments, or run an idea by someone who may be able to help you pursue it. Most importantly, seek out success stories and hold onto your dreams.

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