By: Jacob Dicello
Have you ever briefly met someone and had a perception of who they were based on very little interaction? Then months, or even years, later you got to know them better and you realized that your notion of who you perceived them to be was the exact opposite of who they really are. That has undoubtedly happened to all of us. However, I am embarrassed to say that it happened to me in regards to a whole population of people.
I used to work with a healthcare agency that did monthly health and wellness presentations for the individuals of Tobosa Developmental Services at their Day-hab program. For about an hour a month, I interacted with the Day-hab group and, without merit, I developed a perception of Tobosa and, more importantly, the individuals we support. (I say “we support” because I was fortunate enough to gain employment with Tobosa a few months ago.) My perception, before I started, was that Tobosa was a glorified babysitting agency. I feel terrible for even saying that. Babysitting.
I don’t feel terrible for my perception of Tobosa’s services, because this accomplished and talented group certainly didn’t and doesn’t need my validation. I feel terrible because the perception I had of the individuals we support was so wrong. Tobosa does NOT babysit anyone. We support individuals with Developmental disabilities. SUPPORT is the keyword.
What bothers me now is how many people there are who may have the same perception I had. The individuals that we support are people first, who happen to have a disability. I have disabilities, but I do not expect people to see me as my disability. If I could, I would climb to the top of a mountain and scream out a clarification about who these individuals truly. I would do that to try to change all of the unfounded perceptions that people may have. I do not climb mountains and do not have a voice that can carry that far. But I do have this blog post: Let’s change that misperception!
I want to end today’s post with the first thing that Jessica Dunn, (Director of Program Support Services at Tobosa), told me on the first day of training. “Our goal is to teach the individuals the life skills they need so that they no longer need our services. We will consider our job a success when we no longer have one.”