The Value of Support

Over the last seven years, we’ve hired a lot of people to support Andy and our family. The truth is, if someone is here to support Andy, they are supporting our family. There’s no way around that. We’re a package deal.  The first few folks we hired were amazing people. Most are still involved in our life. When we have Andy’s person-centered planning meetings we invite them to come and share their perspectives. In fact, I’m going to a party at a gal’s house this afternoon who worked with Andy for over two years. She – and her family  – are a part of our “chosen family.”

We’ve also hired our share of not-so-great people to provide support for Andy and our family. I’ve often wondered what it is that makes the difference.

Today, someone pointed out an essay on NPR’s “This I Believe” Series titled, Our Vulnerability is Our Strength. In his essay, Colin Bates touches on one of the key elements, I think. He has learned just how vulnerable one must be to need, and allow, help.

This week is National Direct Support Providers Week (September 7-13). If you are someone who hires a direct support person for yourself or someone in your family, take some time to let them know how much you appreciate them. The good ones? They’re few and far between. Those who are just learning, and may seem “mediocre,” are people we need to nurture and cultivate so they become one of the great ones.

I know that having direct support providers in our life typically improves the quality of Andy’s life and ours. We probably don’t thank people enough.

But this week, we will.


About Joan

I am first, and foremost, the mother of two amazing young men. One of them has Down syndrome, Autism, Celiac Disease, and uses few words. I focus my work on providing support, training, and creating tools that will create quality lives, quality health, and connected community for him and his peers. It's true. We can all have a quality life, with quality health, and connected communities in which we thrive. Let's go on this walk together! You can learn more about me and my work at
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