Frontline Initiative Stress and Burnout

The Real Scoop

Welcome to The Real Scoop. Clifford is a self-advocate who has been politically active for years. He’s ready to give you his spin on how to deal with issues that come up as you forge ahead in your role as a Direct Support Professional. Seth is a Direct Support Professional who loves to give advice. He has been a DSP for too many years to count. He may give you a hard time, but hey, it’s for your own good! Clifford and Seth tackle this one with just a few suggestions. How would you handle this situation?

Stares, Glares and Curious Looks 

Dear Clifford and Seth, When I’m out with the people for whom I provide supports, people often stare at us. I know they are curious, but it is very uncomfortable. I try to ignore the stares, but maybe there is something appropriate that I could say or do to raise their awareness. Any suggestions? —Rose Melville, Fort Collins, CO

Dear Rose, Be very proud of what you do! Explain in a polite way what your job is and why you’re helping people with disabilities. You can be proud of what you’re doing to help people live in their community in a safe and comfortable manner. —Clifford

Dear Rose, I’ve been in your position many times. I’ve found that the best way to handle it is to smile directly at the staring person, and if you make positive eye contact, take it upon yourself to walk over and introduce yourself and the person to whom you are providing supports. For example, “Hi, my name is Seth and this is Linda.” Usually, the person who is staring will be cordial and introduce him or herself as well. When you introduce yourself you’ve also broken the ice with the person who, because of past societal norms, didn’t see many people with disabilities in the neighborhood. Doing this personalizes yourself and the person you’re with. Your future hellos in the street will become more friendly and meaningful with this person. I don’t know about you, but on my block, I always say hello to a familiar face. It’s just a nice feeling. But you have to make the first move. —Thanks, Seth