Being a Part of Community
Belonging is so important for the wellbeing of all individuals
Being a part of community gives us a sense of belonging and helps us feel safe and secure. For families who have a family member with an intellectual disability, communities can also provide a certain level of safeguarding and support. E.g. Neighbours bringing round some food, in case the caregivers in the family are sick, etc.
“My son Jamie has autism. For a long time, I was in survival mode. By leaning into community and creating a vision and plan for Jamie, I am able to breathe easier. We now live on a main road, and I don’t worry that Jamie will get run over or lost. Everyone knows Jamie in the community. I’m known as Jamie’s mum. That’s an iconic role in our community.”
What can you do to support your family member to be part of the community?
Advocate for them
As a family member, your voice matters. Speak up if things can be done better. Let decision-makers in your community know that they need to include and consult with your family member with an intellectual disability. Don’t be afraid to let people know that they might need to speak slower, or provide visual aids.
Develop and maintain connections
It’s important to maintain connections to people who are similar and different to us. Introduce people to your family member with an intellectual disability. Host barbecues at your place, and invite your neighbours and people from the community over.
Be involved in your community
Get more involved in your community and include your family member with an intellectual disability. Go to community meetings, take part in events and fundraisers and make sure to meet your neighbours and introduce them to your family member with an intellectual disability.
Horse riding, dancing, chess - there are many different organisations your family or your family member with an intellectual disability could get involved with. Follow their interests - ask them what they’d like to do and explore different activities.