Living with Down syndrome can be very different than the way other people live, but I am able to do almost everything people without Down syndrome do. One of the reasons I am able to do lots of things and especially to live on my own (not with my parents or family) is because I have lots of great support! Some of that support is from friends and family, but some of it comes from my great and terrific team of support workers. Right now I have three kinds of support workers- my work support, my supportive roommate, and my community supports. Each one is a little different.
At work here at CDSS, I come into work and say good morning to my coworkers, then when my work support comes in we sit down and get set up for the day together. He helps me with knowing the things we need to work on each day, when I am answering the phone he is around to answer any questions that come up, and with double checking when I am doing my work to make sure it is done just right. Right now, my work support is named Dan but I have had lots of other people over the years. When we work as a team, Dan and I can do even more than other people so this is a big part of having a job like mine. Dan even helps me when I am writing blogs like this one haha!
The person I spend the most time with is my current roommate, Nina. Nina is very nice to me and I do love living with her, and she is also a big help to live with. We do all sorts of things together like planning our meals and cooking together, we go shopping together, and we clean the house together. Sometimes we like to go to the pool in our apartment for a swim if we have time, although Nina prefers to relax in the hot tub instead of swimming like me. Nina looks after me, but I also look after her and help her with things like making coffee for us in the morning or helping with dishes, so living together is better for both of us.
My last kind of support worker is a community support. A community support worker is someone who gets together with me to do different things like going out to the bar to watch sports or going to the YMCA to work out. Working out with someone else is more fun anyway, so we do all kinds of things to work out our arms, legs, and bodies and we need to work up a sweat and get a full body workout! Without having good community support I would not be able to workout to stay healthy, and it would be a lot harder to hang out and have a social life.
My support workers have changed a lot and sometimes need to move on in their life or move forward, for example if they want to get married or find a different job. One of my old support workers left to become a fireman! I always understand and it’s okay for them to go, but it makes me feel very sad for them to leave, it’s a sad time when they are gone. I still talk to lots of my old supports and can text or email or call them and we talk about what is happening in their life or their new job. Whether they are still with me or not I still care about them and I love when we can talk or get together.
I think that I could be a very good support worker because I am already a good roommate to Nina and a good son and a good friend. A good support worker needs to be good at communication, patient, and they need to feel good on the inside because of the work that they do. Everyone can support people with Down syndrome even if they are not a support worker by doing some simple things that my support workers do:
- Listen and let me speak even if it takes me a little bit longer
- Planning ahead so I know what I am doing each day
- Make time to hang out and spend time together
- Be open and honest, and ask me if you have questions! I love to answer them
Get out there and get supporting!