Belonging When You are an Adult with a Developmental Disability

February 21, 2020

Belonging When You are an Adult with a Developmental Disability

“Belonging is not being greeted when you arrive, but being missed when you are away.”

This was the main take-away for Abby Frantz at the Belonging Conference in Tel Aviv, Israel this past year. Abby is a program manager in our Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services department. The conference was centered around discussion of belonging and inclusion; something Abby thinks about a lot in her day-to-day life.

Abby manages our community access program, where we offer outings and trips to adults in our IndependenceWorks program.

“We want to be in Atlanta as much as possible.”

The community access program strives to be robust and diverse in its offerings.

“We go to museums, bookstores, coffee shops, musical performances, and also volunteer in the community.”

The consistent outings can have a transformative effect on her clients.

“You might have a person who typically can only say ‘hi.’ But after a few outings, you’ll hear them ask, ‘How ya doin’?’ and they got that from the cashier at the bowling alley, seeing them week to week.”

Although a phrase like “How ya doin’?” seems so simple to a neurotypical person, language enhancement -- even by a few words -- is very beneficial for the client.

“Not only do the outings benefit our clients, but they benefit our community, too, by promoting neurodiversity,” says Abby.

She explains that coffee shop baristas, cashiers, and ticket booth attendants have developed relationships with her clients over the years of weekly visits.

“That’s what we strive for; we want people to miss our clients when they are away, and we’re confident that they do.”