“Honestly, I enjoy all of it” was Sarah’s response when asked what she most enjoys as her role as a Direct Support Professional (DSP). Although it’s the little moments with participants of The Arc of HR she’s come to appreciate most, such as discovering that Jeremy lights up when listening to music (regular car dancing and singing sessions are held under Sarah’s watch) or that Stephen will always stop to greet a dog. Providing full-time direct service for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental (I/DD) disabilities requires a combination of nuanced observations, application of social service techniques, and a great deal of patience. But Sarah is up for all of it.
In fact, she’s most proud of the ways she’s grown regarding de-escalation. If a participant is showing signs of being activated or triggered such as making distressed sounds, self-harming, or being physically aggressive towards surrounding objects, DSPs help participants regulate themselves by offering guidance through various methods. For Sarah, providing a safe and supervised space for feeling strong emotions when they do arise followed by a conversation about that experience is critical for de-escalation. If a participant is feeling overwhelmed by crowds, Sarah will help them find an open space and inquire about how they’re feeling and what they need in that moment to avoid further escalation. And just like any relationship, time and keen observation is required in order to be able to identify specific warning flags unique to each participant and in order to understand what each participant responds best to.