Wednesday, June 19, 2013

An interview Megan Baer - Community Life Coordinator and Life Skills Tutor - Center for Independent Futures

Alyssa: Hi Megan. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me. Do you see any patterns of need amongst the adults with disabilities you serve? 

Megan: The patterns of need I observe are:
            -Job placement
            -On the job support

-Support in managing social connections

-Helping individuals with disabilities to advocate for themselves while out in the community
 -Because people with disabilities communicate and interpret things differently, people often get taken advantage of in stores and on the street. 

-In regards to the families we serve, we often help support families in knowing that we can support individuals with disabilities while also honoring the person’s hopes and dreams. We often work with families in breaking assumptions and segregative thought patterns that make up the disability support system.

Alyssa:  What are individual’s lacking in order to live the lives they want to live in their communities? 

Megan:  The biggest flaws in my opinion both nationally and here in IL are in regards to social connections. People with disabilities don’t often have the opportunity to ‘bump into people’. The institutional model that currently prevails in many states as well as here in IL offers little flexibility and choice. We put people in structured day programs despite personal interests, passions, desires, chemistry or connections. There is limited availability in where these folks can work and how they spend their days. 

We need more focus on creating meaningful connections for individuals with disabilities. We can’t expect jobs and social opportunities in the community to magically appear without individuals advocating and making connections with potential employers and friends.
Beyond the lack of funding for support services, we are lacking agencies with progressive models that value an individuals right to choose the life they want to live.

Alyssa: How do perceived needs and wants differ between disabled adults and their caregiver, guardian or support network? 

Megan: There are reasonable fears instilled in parents regarding their children from the time they are born regarding what their child will, wont, is and isn’t capable of. The ability to take reasonable risks is a human right. It is a big part of growth. Making mistakes and learning coping skills is essential to a full, independent life.

Alyssa: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

Megan: You’re most welcome.

You can learn more about the Center for Independent Futures and the important work they do at:

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