Frontline Initiative Ethics

The Real Scoop

 Welcome to The Real Scoop. Clifford is a self-advocate who has been politically active for years. He’s here to give you his spin on how to deal with issues you face as you forge ahead in your role as a Direct Support Professional (DSP). Seth has been a DSP for many years, and he loves to give advice. He may ruffle your feathers, but hey, it’s for your own good! Clifford and Seth tackle this one with a few suggestions.

Dating Dilemma

Dear Seth and Cliff,

I am a DSP supporting a 28-yearold woman. I have supported her for about one year and during the time that I have known her, she has talked about wanting to go on dates, but doesn’t have opportunities to meet men she is interested in. Last month, she began talking about joining a dating service. I would like to support her with this since she currently makes most of her own decisions. However, her parents are her legal guardians and they oppose her dating. What are my responsibilities in keeping confidentiality, respecting her right to make decisions, and also respecting her parents in their role of legal guardians? — In the Middle in Illinois

Dear In the Middle,

Please be sensitive to the needs of the person you are working with, but you should also discuss with her parents that she wants to date. Plan a time to sit down and talk with the parents and the woman you support. Her parents may be afraid of what might happen if she dates. If you sit down and talk it though with them, you may be able to alleviate some of their fears. The person you support has a right to decide what she wants, but her parents have a right to make sure she’s safe. Maybe they would feel more comfortable if they met the person she wanted to date. Good luck. — Cliff

Dear In the Middle,

Our goal is to advocate for and teach the people we support to lead responsible and happy lives. We all deserve a loving partner to share that life. People with disabilities now more than ever are a part of their community. They have real jobs and real issues. It might be a good time to look into recreational activities that the parents of the person you support can be a part of, to at least see that their daughter has the same wants as they do, and to help her fulfill these needs in a safe, positive environment. It’s obvious that you are walking a fine line, but you show respect for the person you support and her parents when you communicate openly with both. The more her parents trust you, the easier it will be to advocate and help them realize that they have to let go, sooner or later. — Seth