Dave Hingsburger wrote a very moving post yesterday on his blog, Chewing the Fat, about a young man who felt completely and utterly alone although he had been provided supports throughout his life – supports for inclusion, for a planned and programmed life, and for community integration. But what touched me even more than Dave’s post was a comment left by one of Dave’s co-workers. Manuela said:
"Far too often the people that provide support think their job is to be a friend. Our funding in Ontario even encourages that belief. We provide funds to families encouraging them to hire respite or contract workers - to take their child out to the movies, to sports, to the community, to be a friend. We reward people for being great friends instead of helping one to find friends. The latter is a much more difficult job that many of us will not take on, that many that hire us don't want us to do. It’s no wonder we end up with so many lonely people surrounded by so many paid supports."
I could very easily take out the young man in Dave’s story and replace him with my Ashley. Once again, Dave and Manuela have opened my eyes to what should have been visible in the first place. Thank you both…
And to all the parents of children with disabilities and to all the paid support staff, please take a moment to consider Dave’s and Manuela’s words, and ask yourself what you can do to prevent rather than foster profound loneliness.