Tips for Self Advocates
People with disabilities, like so many of us right now, are struggling with how and what to do as the world opens up. There is so much uncertainty.
In a recent dialog with self-advocates, people shared concerns about how to safely resume the many aspects of becoming involved in community gatherings while feeling comfortable with ongoing COVID protocols. The discussion was facilitated by mental health counselor Kathy O’Connell.
The group discussed post-pandemic social challenges. LIFEPlan member Nicole spoke about a friend who she wants to spend time with, but who is unable to be vaccinated due to a medical condition. “Even when wearing a mask, and meeting her outside, I’m afraid I’ll make her sick. I’m vaccinated but still feel like it’s a risk.”
For others there is confusion about when to wear a mask and when it’s not necessary. Kathy suggested they, “just carry one with you to be on the safe side. It’s better to be prepared than disappointed.”
She also explained that in some cases it may be wise to call ahead of time to confirm the mask policy at the location you’re visiting. “This way you’re certain of the rules and can make a plan.”
How to Socialize Safely
Kathy O’Connell, owner of Radiant Abilities and person with disability, has some good advice. Meet people through places that are familiar to you, like the gym or even volunteer activities you did before the pandemic. Ready for a new experience? Check out new places that you may be ready to explore with fresh eyes. The key points were to take things slow, start small and, as Kathy says, “you do YOU!”
When it comes to dating, some of the virtual ways to connect may still be of value to self-advocates. If you are using apps to meet others, “In some cases it’s safer and more convenient to have the first date on Zoom.”
Remember, we’re ALL in the process of learning how to reconnect and that some anxiety or confusion is to be expected. If you need help or just want to talk, your Care Manager is always there for you. Kathy also has many helpful resources on her website.
Download the socialization infographic here.