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AmyY: Volunteers Don’t Cut It

AmyY (re: “Political Game: The least able”): I have a child with a developmental disability and I spend every waking (and sleeping) moment trying to figure out how to support him in the most appropriate way. My days are filled with managing therapeutic care, education plans, medical care, recreational opportunities, managing breakdowns and behaviors, providing “learning opportunities”, researching, implementing, observing, documenting and analyzing everything. Oh - and let's not forget about the thoughts about what will happen to him when I die. Now I'm supposed to manage a cadre of community volunteers to assist me and my child? Volunteers who are not trained or experienced and who may in fact do more harm than good? Full post below.

Question: You still believe that having volunteers from families, friends, and church make up the difference in services provided by the cash-strapped state is a good idea?


Until you're the one responsible the a disabled individual, you really have no clue about how utterly mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting it is. Providing goods and occasional services to those in need is very different from providing on-going support to an individual who must be supervised and cared for 24/7.

I have a child with a developmental disability and I spend every waking (and sleeping) moment trying to figure out how to support him in the most appropriate way. My days are filled with managing therapeutic care, education plans, medical care, recreational opportunities, managing breakdowns and behaviors, providing “learning opportunities”, researching, implementing, observing, documenting and analyzing everything. Oh - and let's not forget about the thoughts about what will happen to him when I die.

Now I'm supposed to manage a cadre of community volunteers to assist me and my child? Volunteers who are not trained or experienced and who may in fact do more harm than good? Volunteers who wouldn't stick around very long once they experience the “maladaptive” behaviors that come from frustration and pain (think about your ears bleeding because of the constant screaming or the broken nose from an errant head-butt)

If anyone really wants to know what it's like to support an individual with a disability, I have a haircut appointment scheduled next week for my son - drop on by and let's see what your suggestions are then.


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D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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