I am the second oldest of 4 siblings. When I was eleven years old my youngest brother was born. I helped raise him, and was there for every significant milestone. Around the age of four we noticed that he did things a little different than normal. He got upset and inconsolable when his routines were changed or challenged, certain things didn’t make sense to him, he was really sensitive to facial expressions or tone of voice, and so forth. All of this led to an eventual diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Although this did not change the love we had for him, it definitely changed how we approached certain situations. It caused us to do a lot of research on the topic, and to create a better understanding of what it means to have Autism. It also created a space where advocating for his needs, and openly voicing concerns at school or in other realms of his life became a necessity.
This month (March) is national developmental disabilities month. I think we can all agree that adapting to a disability, whether it’s from birth or develops later on in life, can be challenging. Some people even get into a really deep funk when it comes to this adaptation. Society puts a lot of pressure to present a certain way, which can in turn damage someone’s self-perception. It is important to be able to support those in your life who have disabilities to the best of your ability. Therefore, here are some strategies to use in order to become a support system for someone in your life:
- Educate yourself on the topic- being able to understand where someone is coming from consists of doing research on the topic
- Be a kind and empathetic beacon- creating a space centered on kindness and understanding can help the person feel loved and supported.
- Get familiar with resources in your community- different communities provide different resources depending on the community and sometimes the disability. By becoming familiar with these resources, you can become a better advocate for that individual
- Keep in touch with the systems involved in the individuals life- simply making sure that no discrimination is occurring, or if in a school system, making sure they are getting the proper care while at school
It is important to note that everyone is human. No one should be treated differently based on a disability. By simply being kind, and treating everyone with respect and dignity is key to showing your support to anyone around you. Show love, and show kindness.