Frontline Initiative: DSPs Using the NADSP Code of Ethics
Respect in Action
Elissa and Keri take a playful photo.
Keri works as a direct support professional (our official job title is Support Partner), providing assistance, guidance, and support in partnership with Elissa, a woman with intellectual disability. Both women live in the Lehigh Valley, a community in northeast Pennsylvania. This story will share a bit about their relationship, and how Keri puts the NADSP Code of Ethics into action.
One of the most important human attributes is having respect for other people. The NADSP Code of Ethics defines this as the DSP respecting, “the human dignity and uniqueness of the people support[ed]…and recogniz[ing] each person…support[ed] as valuable and promot[ing] their value to our communities.”
Elissa has her own, unique way of communicating and interacting with the world, including her version of American Sign Language, and specific body movements. She prefers not to use assistive technology at this time, so it is crucial for those working with her to learn and understand her communication.
Elissa does not use her voice, so people who don’t know her are challenged to understand her communication. She has her own, unique way of communicating and interacting with the world, including her version of American Sign Language, and specific body movements. She prefers not to use assistive technology at this time, so it is crucial for those working with her to learn and understand her communication. Keri learned from Elissa and continues to encourage and support her to articulate her aspirations and preferences, as well as make clear what she does not like or want to do.
Elissa is ready to hit a home run.
Keri watched and understood Elissa’s movements and actions to be about her love of baseball. Especially in springtime, Elissa begins to sign “play ball” and point to outside. She also smiles and responds happily to sounds of the local community baseball teams practicing in nearby parks. Keri has accompanied Elissa to purchase a batting tee, glove, and wiffle ball bat. They both practice and play in Elissa’s backyard, and other supporters join in as well.
Understanding, respecting, and responding to Elissa’s communications, in whatever way she prefers, is key to Keri and the other DSPs fulfilling their professional responsibilities, and it is important to their relationship with Elissa. Mutual respect and even admiration for who each person is, and what each brings to the relationship means both people benefit—rewarding careers and good lives. And for Elissa and Keri, there’s so much opportunity to meet new people who also love the game, to explore new places in their neighborhood, and maybe even inspire Elissa to someday throw the first pitch or catch a foul ball.