Frontline Initiative Person-Centered Practices

How has pursuing and attaining NADSP credentials impacted me and those I support?


Isabelle Lys Houser is a DSP-C1 at Partnership in Community Living Individualized Services, Monmouth, Oregon. She can be reached

I had over six years of experience as a DSP when my employer offered me the opportunity to pursue the NADSP Certified Level 1 credential. My company chose to pilot this program as a cohort. This means the same group of people take all the classes together. We would also be able to lean on each other for support. The cohort included coworkers who work in Individualized Services with me and employees in other departments of the company.

The online classes were interesting and I appreciated the content. I learned about new and unfamiliar resources. The cohort offered chances to discuss what we had learned. Exchanging ideas through the cohort made the lessons more accessible. Seeing different perspectives and interpretations was also very valuable. I met people and I felt that we helped each other grow. We became better DSPs and forged new friendships.

An example of this involves a woman I support who is fascinated by bees. A member of my cohort happened to be a beekeeper. We set up a meeting to demonstrate some of the skills needed in beekeeping. She still talks about this experience and we are planning another visit. I gained more confidence to try new things because of the additional education, my team members, peer discussions, and feedback on my ideas in the credentialing program. During the first year, I placed a strong emphasis on the work samples of the focus areas needed for the portfolio. I thought about the focus areas and how I could turn them into work samples. During the intermission between receiving my DSP-C1 level and before beginning the second year of the program I noticed I was no longer content with the same old “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach. I wanted more for those I support. I also expected more from myself. Training changed my attitude and perspective. My focus has become more about action to enhance the quality of life for those I support. Thinking about how to improve situations became almost second nature. I have created new opportunities where I felt a void.

Someone I support is a big fan of video games. They are shy, but would like to meet people with similar interests. I created a connection with a business in our community. They allow us to use their space to have a weekly meeting for anyone to play videogames together. What I do is no longer a job, or even a career, it’s a way of life. The DSP Credential has helped reaffirm my purpose in life.