“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” Amelia Earhart
Change can be scary. All of us have experienced this in varying degrees – whether we initiate a change or life makes that decision for us. Unchartered territory and the “what if’s” seem to consume our fears and before long, we are living in a parallel universe of doubt and anxiety rather than true reality.
Change can also be dynamic, innovative and profound! In fact, in the present day, we benefit from state of the art medical, technological and scientific discoveries that have improved lives all over the world. But we are all creatures of habit and those who live with disabilities experience an even more significant challenge adapting to change. However, there is so much we can do to support our loved ones and clients going through any kind of change.
Communicating is essential in providing extra processing time to mentally understand what is to come. At Grafton, we use “social stories” when sharing new information with our clients. This is a thin book we create and personalize with very basic verbiage and pictures. This tool be used to explain moving to a new group home, graduation from school, a peer leaving, new staff, family matters, or even going on a trip to a new place. Multiple staff will utilize this tool more than once so that understanding and generalization can begin in our clients’ minds.
Environmental supports can be very comforting as well! If clients have environmental modifications that support their behavioral or physical needs, those modifications should transfer to their new setting. Guardians can be the best partners in this strategy; what works on home visits can often transfer to the group home setting – and vise versa!
Finally, attitude is more than half the battle. Believe me, I am saying this just as much for myself as for the reader. Remember that alternate reality with fear, doubt and anxiety? So much of that is just human nature but if we can do the work to intentionally change our outlook, oftentimes this positivity can transfer to others as well. Have courage, look for the opportunity in a challenge, project possibility and encouragement, and use positive speech. Our clients look to us for security, reassurance and a sense of belonging. When we chose to have the most positive outlook, their lives benefit exponentially. And sometimes…just sometimes, things end up going much better than we could have ever imagined.
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale