Jasonsconnection.org is trying to raise awareness and shift the conversation away from more medicalized models of support and care. WE envision a model of human services that's more flexible to the individual versus retro-fitting the individual to the system. WE believe service and addressing needs is not a ONE SIZE FITS ALL model. Although many human service organizations provide very helpful guidelines, they often present ONE solution that "fixes" everything for everyone.
A model that has been a helpful tool to me has been the Peer Mentor.
One example of a model that has been a helpful tool to me has been the Peer Mentor. Peer Mentors are someone in the community (not from an agency or professional setting) who are generally around the individual's age or share interests who collaborate with the needed supports. It can be a club member or classmate, or someone you have a rapport with in your community.
Peer mentors were helpful to me in the social arena as a way to help me engage in new encounters and experiences.
For me, I engaged other graduate students going for their degree in caring professions of Clinical Social Work and Occupational Therapy who both were sensitive to my needs. These peer mentors were helpful to me by providing social comfort and supports in the social arena as a way to help me engage in new encounters and experiences that are not always initially very easy for me. These are not friendships per se (although friendships certainly can develop), but they have helped me with ideas and strategies I needed.
I always had agency in what was decided.
These peer supports are not hierarchal but person-centered with me as an integral part of the planning, process and goal setting. I always had agency in what was decided and felt it was a great working relationship rather than feeling I was being directed as to what I needed to do.
It has helped me be more open, not feel so alone.
Rather than being about "fixing," it became experiential practice and supports that have helped me build my confidence and repertoire of social experiences. It has helped me be more open, not feel so alone, and have fun in the process!
Founder of Jason’s Connection – an online resource for those with disabilities, mental health, aging and other needs. Jason was awarded an M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education and Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies from Syracuse University. Jason is also a Project Coordinator and Research Associate at the Burton Blatt Institute, an international think tank for Disability Rights and Human Justice at Syracuse University. He regularly contributes to the blog in his own series called Jason’s View and travels the country consulting and speaking about disability issues and rights. To read more from Jason Harris, read Jason's View.