Journal article Open Access
I have worked in the non-profit sector of the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) for adults and children with developmental disabilities for the last six years. Within that time frame I have worked as a direct support professional (DSP) working one-on-one with individuals residing in group homes. I have been an assistant director and assistant residential supervisor managing the day-today functions of several group homes. I advocated for individuals with developmental disabilities as their Medicaid service coordinator working with their other service providers and families to improve the quality of their lives. I have been a community habilitation coordinator training and establishing community based services for individuals and their specific one on one staff. And currently, I am a behaviour specialist; I create and implement behaviour plans and counsel individuals who have behavioural issues within five group homes in the New York metropolitan area. Throughout my career, I have worked with over 300 individuals served in Rockland County, NY with a variety of developmental and intellectual disabilities. I have learned that disabilities are not cookie cutter and what works for one person may not work for another who has the same diagnosis; people are all different. Of all of the lessons I continue to learn from working one on one with such amazing people, my biggest take away is people in the community have no idea who is living next door. I have been out in the community with several of my individuals and we as a group have received scowls, frowns, distain, and fear. Some people will attempt to be kind and shoot a quick smile before quickly scurry away from us.