Honoring Direct Support Professionals

Editor’s Note – Last week was Direct Support Professional Recognition Week in North Carolina. The Autism Society of North Carolina employs hundreds of Direct Support personnel and without their dedication and continued efforts many individuals on the autism spectrum and their families would not have needed support services. The following article was provided by Kerri Erb, Senior Director of Quality and Programs.

Direct Support Personnel (DSPs), Community Skills Instructors (CSIs), Hab Tech, Cap Worker – by whatever their name, these individuals are to be recognized. Every day they work one to one with an individual with autism to teach skill acquisition, supporting a person in reaching independence goals, becoming a friend, a natural support, or a lifelong member of the family. Direct Support Professionals come in all ages and stages of life. Some come to work for ASNC for a few months, others stay for a lifetime.

We’d like to just take a moment to invite you to reach out to the DSP you know, who works with your child, your neighbor, and say “thank you.” Recognize them for a job well done. DSP are the largest percentage of ASNC’s employees and we learn how to improve what we do as an organization and as a system from them. Many full-time Autism Society of North Carolina employees and managers got their start in the field through Direct Support work. Because of this understanding throughout the organization of the importance of DSP, our ultimate hope is that an individual with autism’s life is improved in some way through their work.

As an agency we have been endowed an annual award to give to a direct support staff worker to recognize the job that they do here at ASNC. Lori and Gregg Ireland established this award to honor the John and Claudia Roman family who provided extraordinary support to their son and family. Through their generous gift, the Irelands have enabled the Autism Society of NC to acknowledge and honor other direct support staff that had the same level of commitment in the delivery of service as John and Claudia.

We have honored Tanya Ahner- Mejia (2012), Lori Sweeney (2011), and Emily Bennett (2010) with this award in recent years for their tireless dedication, ability to go above and beyond and for making a real impact in the lives of individuals with ASD and their communities. They are the ones who make dreams come true.

It’s not just the Autism Society of North Carolina that recognized the importance of DSPs, click here to see Gov. Perdue’s proclamation to celebrate this week.

So in case you missed the opportunity last week, we invite you to give your DSP a pat on the back, or a donation in their honor, for a job well done this week (or any week). ASNC will again honor a DSP with the John and Claudia Roman award for 2012 at the 2013 Autism Society of North Carolina conference February 8-9 in Charlotte. Please nominate your Autism Society of NC DSP for this award by emailing Kerri Erb or Denise Ferguson for more information.

Kerri Erb can be reached via email at kerb@autismsociety-nc.org or by phone at 919-865-5053 or 800-442-2762, ext 1102.

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