Family support is important for all people. Whanau, family and aiga are also important to people with intellectual disabilities.
Families can provide love, care, and a sense of belonging. They also help to create possibilities.
So how can families support their
loved one with an intellectual disability?
1. Believe in them
Society will have preconceived ideas and expectations of your loved one with an intellectual disability. And it can be too easy to internalise these limited notions of what your family member can and can’t do.
As a family member, it is your job to believe in the person with the intellectual disability, back them and empower them to make their own choices.
2. Help them with their decision-making
Your family member with an intellectual disability will have choice and control about disability services and what they will purchase. And if they get support services, they will need to be able to make decisions about them.
Like all people though, they may need help with their decision-making from time to time. Families are often best placed to help them with decision-making. It is families who understand what gives meaning to their family member’s life, what counts and what it takes for a person to flourish.
3. Advocate alongside and/or on their behalf
Many people may find themselves having to confront some professionals who have their own ideas of what life should look like for people who have an intellectual disability.
Why Family Support Matters
Families can advocate with their family member with an intellectual disability.
Families are usually the ones who hold responsibility for the well being of their family members.
Families know their loved one with an intellectual disability best.
Families typically care about their relative more than others might.
Families have a stake in the outcomes.
Families are expected to advocate for their family members.
The families have first-hand insight into systems and professional support provided to families with disabled loved ones.
Some family members may also have talents and experiences which can give them additional authority.
Families often have the best view of what is happening in their loved one’s life. They can clearly see what is and isn’t working.