Siblings, Systems & Support

Apr 29, 2024

Happy new year! I hope 2021 will be filled with lots of blooming for you and the people you care about. Another Normal supports you on your journey, providing information and resources that inspire growth, spark new ideas, and help lighten your load as a parent, caregiver or just someone who cares about young people with disabilities. Thank you for being here and sharing your comments. If you were forwarded this e-mail, sign up below for your free weekly copy.


Dreams of digitizing.

With the new year upon us, my thoughts turn to purging and organizing the multitude of paperwork that consumes me throughout the year.  Much of it concerns our son with disabilities.  Over the years, we have amassed reams of medical, educational and legal documents, which I’ve filed away in binders and can’t quickly share or even access at times. Recently, though, I discovered Vestlife, and I already feel lighter and safer.   The platform enables parents to create a virtual “vest” with separate “pockets” to store and organize “must have documents” for a person with disabilities. This includes legal and financial information, along with information on health care, social/recreation, school, diet, religious and family traditions, assistive tech and much more. All can be stored safely on the cloud, password-protected and shared anytime (read only) with others involved in your loved one’s care.  

Speaking of important documents, January is a great time to review and update your letter of intent.  This nonbinding document provides a written summary of your desires and wishes for your loved one in the event you can no longer care for them.  Although an emotional exercise to undertake, it’s a true gift to file away for use by others in the event of an emergency.  I encourage all parents to pour a cup of tea (or something stronger!) and use the added energy that comes with a new year to create or update this essential document when time permits.  It’s an especially valuable gift for siblings to reduce uncertainty and offer much-needed peace of mind.

Speaking of siblings.

Watching our adult children interact during the holidays reminded me of the valuable role siblings play in the lives of young people with special needs. In addition to providing friendship and emotional support, siblings often take on practical responsibilities (like cooking and cleaning), as well as personal care and more. No matter how loving and kind they are, it can be a tough job. That’s why I love this podcast that focuses exclusively on supporting siblings and the unique issues they face. Psychologists, researchers, and sibs of all ages share advice and perspective on how to manage different challenges. Hats off to all the great siblings out there! You are very special, too.

Waste not, want not.

We’re all familiar with recycling paper and plastic, but what about the nearly 50 million tons of e-waste generated around the world each year?  According to a recent U.N. report, only 20% of it is formally recycled, and the situation is getting worse.  One father of a son with autism was inspired to change this.  His company, Ecommunity in Israel, employs more than 70 individuals with special needs to properly dispose of computers, cell phones, appliances and other electronic waste through a safe and environmentally responsible recycling process.  The company aims to increase social integration, a sense of productivity and overall independence for its workers — in essence making electronic waste an asset.  Wouldn’t you love to see something like this in the U.S.? Meanwhile, learn more here about how to recycle your e-waste to be part of the solution instead of the problem.

Up, up and away.

Our suitcases are getting dusty. And I can’t wait to travel once the world opens back up. Until then, we have plenty of time to dream, plan and save for that next big adventure. One of my favorite bloggers, Corey Lee, has lots of good advice to share on this subject. And a great new website called AccessibleGo provides excellent inspiration and services to get you out and about on your next journey. Researching, planning and developing a travel budget can be a great learning exercise for young adults with disabilities. Where do you want to go?

Interested in learning more about one-to-one coaching? Contact Kris for information on what this might look like for you, including outcomes, availability, fees and more.

Contact Kris

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