March 24, 2015

The Power of Positivity

  “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” – Anonymous From their book “The Extraordinary Leader,” John Zenger and Joseph Folkman analyzed hundreds of organizations and their leaders over several years, and from this research developed a list of ten “fatal flaws” that led to failure in leadership.  The most common and most noticeable fatal flaw was failing to inspire due to lack of energy and enthusiasm.  One person interviewed described his boss as, “having the ability to suck all the energy out of any room.”  An individual lacking positive energy and having a negative outlook on everything very quickly saps energy from those around him.  Conversely, a leader with a positive attitude creates a significant “trickle down” effect.  Her enthusiasm and positive energy spreads to her employees.  This energy has been shown to increase productivity, efficiency, improve overall job satisfaction and, as you would imagine, decrease turnover.  The trickle […]
March 10, 2015

Putting Things in Perspective

Much of the research and literature on the experiences of raising a child with a disability focuses on dysfunction and the stress as a result of having a disabled child, dismissing the positive transformations a family can go through.  Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with two parents and learn about their individual experiences and struggles, as well as their new found strengths and positive outcomes. Both Susan, whose son has autism, and John, whose daughter has cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities, were very open and surprisingly blunt in answering tough questions about their experiences. Susan discussed how typically when your child has an illness, you go see the doctor and he develops a plan of action for treating the illness.  With autism, however, “You are waiting for someone to tell you, ‘Okay, your child has autism.  This is what we are going to do…’ but the ‘what […]
February 25, 2015

Everyone Has "Behaviors"

One of the most enjoyable parts of my professional career has been the opportunity to do training and orientation with new employees.  It is informative for me (to meet the people who work for us and learn more about them and their experiences), and fun to share some information that I think is helpful (and oftentimes things I wish I had been told early in my own career).  Although I have done training on a variety of topics, if I had to give just one single piece of advice to someone new to this profession, I would say to always keep one thought at the forefront of your mind: People with disabilities are capable and intelligent; their emotions, feelings, and thoughts are just as complex and rich as anyone else’s.  I believe having this in mind allows us to give people the benefit of the doubt and to better understand […]
February 10, 2015

A Summer Job

“I have a friend who works at a group home.”  Fifteen years ago when these words were spoken to me, I had no idea how they would change my career and my life.  Searching for a summer job before college, my father suggested I apply at a group home where a friend of his worked as a live-in staff.  I decided it was worth a try and if nothing else would be a good experience for me over the summer.  A month later (and about two weeks into my new job at the group home), I felt like my perspective had changed significantly.  I was planning to obtain my bachelor’s degree in secondary education to teach high school English but suddenly I felt like I had found a new type of work that was equally if not more rewarding.  A few short weeks later the live-in staff resigned unexpectedly and […]