Chou Hallegra, Founder of Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC is now a Certified AutPlay Therapy Provider!
AutPlay Therapy was created by Dr. Robert Jason Grant and is a play therapy and behavioral therapy approach to working with children and parents affected by Autism and other developmental disabilities. It combines the therapeutic powers of play therapy, behavioral therapy, and relationship development approaches together in a collaborative model to assist children and adolescents in gaining needed skills and abilities.
Contact us today to find out more email@example.com or 717-216-0230
T’was the day before Thanksgiving…Perhaps a day to prepare for all the festivities: Making the last trip to the grocery store, cleaning the house for guests, planning recreational activities for the long weekend…But I was preparing for something totally different.
I had a scheduled surgery that morning. I ran a few errands in preparation for the surgery, drove back home to park my car since I wouldn’t be able to drive after the procedure. I then requested an Uber ride to the hospital.
All the people I talked to who either had this surgery or knew someone who had it, had wonderful things to say about the procedure… “You’ll be so glad you had it …You won’t have to deal with all this pain anymore… You’ll feel like a new person”. I looked forward to the procedure. It promised a new beginning. A new beginning, I had. Just not exactly the one I expected.
My scheduled procedure went well, just as expected. Once in the recovery room, I started complaining of excruciating headaches that felt very different than my regular migraines. I was taken to the observation room and given pain medication, but the headache persisted.
Then a couple hours after the procedure, I was eating a Popsicle and tried to tell a family member that my head was feeling weird, but no words were coming out. My lips were moving but no words were coming out. I could see the worried look on everyone’s faces and knew something was wrong. Within a few minutes, my room was full of people. I suppose they all came to help. Rapid response was called.
By the time the medical staff were in the room, the symptoms had progressed. I couldn’t answer questions like “who’s the president of the United States?” I knew the answer but couldn’t get the words out. I couldn’t move the left side of my body. The left side of my face was numb. My left eye was drooping. I was presenting all the typical signs of a stroke.
I was then rushed to a different hospital by helicopter. The initial plan was to remove the blood clot as soon as possible; we all assumed that I had a blood clot from the surgery. Once in the new hospital, the CT scan and MRI could not find any blood clot, yet I still had all the stroke symptoms. I was put on stroke protocol and treated as such.
I was in that hospital for a week, three days were spent in the Intensive Care Unit. My entire body was out of order during that time. I had developed medical problems I didn’t have before. My entire being had changed, internally and externally.
While the changes were debilitating, I was not ashamed of them, but I slowly became aware of other people’s discomfort with my “new disabilities”. One person who had known me my entire life said, “you can’t afford to be a disabled woman with three kids” and by that comment I was reminded of society’s view of disability.
Ten years ago, I was legally declared “disabled” due to debilitating medical conditions. Those conditions were however invisible and apparently did not bother anyone. I have worked since, I have been a mom, a business owner, and so many other things while living with the same challenging conditions.
Somehow, as long as they were invisible, nobody cared. There were my problems, not society’s. I spent some days in bed, some days I had to call for help, other days I canceled work assignments and prior commitments. Somehow, nobody ever told me I couldn’t afford to be a “disabled woman with three kids”.
This time my disability is visible, and it seems to bother people more than it bothers me. I’m in a wheelchair. I’m having difficulty communicating. I can’t take care of my personal care needs. It’s obvious that I’m not “independent” according to society’s standards.
Does society view people with visible disability as a burden? Now that they can see my limitations, is it a constant reminder to them of their lack of support? Perhaps my invisible disabilities made me look “normal” for ten years and now all the sudden I’m no longer “normal”? Sadly, the answer to all these questions is a loud “YES” and I have read many research papers on this topic during my post-graduate studies, but I will not bore you with that.
If my visible disabilities do not bother me, does that mean that I will not apply myself to regain the functions I’ve lost? Not at all! I’m doing physical, occupational, speech, and vision therapies and I have already seen major improvements. What I’m trying to say is that I do not fear limitations. Even if I do not regain all the functional abilities I had before the stroke, I believe and KNOW that with support and accommodations, I can still have a meaningful life. Maybe my life will be even more meaningful than it’s ever been because I now have a deeper sense of gratitude, appreciation, and empathy.
I will not apologize for having disabilities, visible or invisible. I’m a beautiful human being inside and out. What you see or do not see does not define who I truly am. Get to know me and other people that society calls “disabled”, then you will realize that we are all able and disabled in our unique ways. Every human being has both strengths and weaknesses.
Now, look at the title of this article again, but only read the words in capital letters. You should read I CAN BE ABLED. Yes, people can be "abled" by the respect they receive from society and that respect starts by assuming that they can have meaningful lives.
If we assume that people can have meaningful lives, regardless of their functional limitations, then we start supporting people in achieving lives of purpose, and therefore, there will be no room for statements like “you can’t afford to be a disabled woman with three children”. In fact, I will joyfully be a "disabled" mother of three "disabled" children because our family has embraced disability as part of our human experience. It’s time the rest of society gets with the program!
Self-Advocate & Ally to the differently ABLE
Founder of Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC
P.S. Hallegra is my middle name. It comes from the Italian “allegria”, which translates into “allegresse” in French or “glee” in English. Therefore, Hallegra means lively joy or gaiety, which I want to identify with even more in this season of my life.
I like that Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC....
- Changes lives
- Helps others integrate their faith into their emotional wellness and other services they receive
- Was inspired by life experiences and continues to keep it real
Hi everyone, this is Chou Gabikiny again. For those who do not know me, I'll reintroduce myself again. I'm Chou Gabikiny, the founder of Grace and Hope Consulting, and my organization provides training, consultations, and counseling to help people achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives.
Today I want to talk about person-centered practices in the home. Those of you who are familiar with what I do know that I'm a certified trainer for person-centered thinking. Often when people think about person-centered practices, they think about person-centered planning and how we use it to plan for services for people, but it's actually a way of thinking that looks at the individual, what's important to them and for them and being able to make the distinction and actually incorporating that into everyday life. So I'm just going to share a little bit about how I use person-centered practices in my home.
I have three children, they're all very unique, just as your children are, and they're all very different, just like any of the children out there...but knowing what's important to each of my children helps me parent them in a way that is more supportive to them. So I'll talk about my daughter for example.
My daughter does not like to be rushed, this can be true for all three of my kids, and it goes beyond just the feeling of being rushed. When she's rushed she gets very overwhelmed and then it becomes hard for her to actually plan her next step. Since I know that…that's who she is, that's something that she needs, then the way I parent her I give her extra time to complete tasks. That's just one way I use person-centered practicing in my home.
I have my son, Gabriel, the middle child, he does not like to be bossed around (to put it bluntly). He likes to have control over things, he likes to have control over what impacts him. So knowing that...again I'm the parent but I can power struggles with him forever or I can find a way to respect what's important to him and incorporate that into my parenting style.
So what does that look like? Instead of me telling Gabriel, "I need you to do this right now." I could do that, there are times where I get to a point where I say that, but what works best for my son is when I explain what's going on: "This is what we need to do...this is why we need to do it...and this is how you can help us do it." By doing that I just gave him the power to actually be part of this end goal that the family has, and he feels empowered to contribute. When I’m asking him to do something I'm not just bossing him because
I'm the mom, but I am actually helping him to make those decisions, make those choices so he can be part of something bigger and do something to help the entire family. He loves that, and it works!
My younger one, he has sensory issues. In another video I did, I talked a little bit about it. Because I know he has sensory issues, then I address those needs because it's important to him that things are done a certain way. Instead of just doing whatever I want, whatever will work for me as a parent, what will make my life easier, I kind of turn it around and do what will make life easier for my child. And that doesn't mean I'm going to enable every behavior out there, no; but it actually helps me prevent behavior by including what's important to him.
The focus of Person-Centered Thinking is finding that balance between what's important to someone versus what's important for someone. When we think about what's important for someone, we're focusing on health and safety: people taking their medication, people living in a safe environment, people being somewhere where they're not abused, so we think about those things. Health and safety are the main components of what's important “for” someone.
By the way, the best for people is going beyond that. I can be safe and healthy but be miserable. I can be safe and healthy and be bored, that's not fun for anybody. So person-centered thinking actually incorporates this added value to people's lives that is what's important “to” someone, what makes them tick in a good way, what are the things that make them smile, what are the things that bring joy to them, what are the things that actually make a whole lot of difference in their life, like the things that they like to do. It can be that they like their coffee cold, maybe they like it with two cups of sugar, might not be healthy, but again, it's finding that balance. Supporting people in a way that incorporates what's important to them help them have meaningful lives.
If you're just providing health and safety, people will be miserable and then you get more behavior, now you might get more attention. Then you're not meeting your outcome goals. You're not meeting your goals because people are just not happy. All of us want to live a life that's free from constraints whatever that be, we don’t like somebody to have control over us.
When we incorporate what's important to someone it actually helps to give people power, instead of serving people or supporting them in a way where we have power over them. When we use person-centered practices, we're actually having power with them because we're incorporating what's important to them so they can have meaningful lives. We’re showing them that we value what's important to them, we value what they want, and we do our best to make that happen. And that doesn't mean that we have to fake it. No, if we cannot do it right, find someone who can do it right, but it is important for all of us to do it.
This thing is just not for people with disabilities, it's not just for people who need extra help per se, this goes for all of us. Person-Centered Thinking practices are for all people regardless of age, regardless of gender, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of your background or your ability level, your function level, it doesn't matter. We all want better lives, we all want meaningful lives, we all want lives that make us happy so that's why we must practice Person-Centered thinking.
If your agency can benefit from this strategy if you can benefit from it… Honestly as a parent, my goodness, just learning about those tools myself made a lot of difference in how I parent my children. It made a lot of difference in how I even treat myself.
The Person-Centered Thinking training is usually two full days. I can break it down into four half days. Through this training, you learn to gather information about the person and find meaningful information that you can use to help them have better lives.
We look at tools like important to and important for. In trying to make that distinction and incorporating that throughout all the other tools that you learn for the training. We also look at other tools like the morning routine...what are those things that make for a good day for someone. We do what's working, what's not working, so looking at certain situations and it becomes a good decision-making tool.
This one, for example, I just had to use it recently when I needed extra care for my child and we tried a setting and we had all these little things that just did not work and made it more stressful for me and more overwhelming for my child. I had to sit down and use that tool (the What’s working and What’s not working).
Once you get comfortable with these tools and you actually get to the point where you're not using it like on paper all the time, it becomes this thinking process; cause before you plan you have to think. And if you start thinking in a way that's person-centered, then your planning, your actions, your treatment plans, become person-centered. So again, that training is really useful for all of us.
I just shared a few examples, of how I changed the way I parent to be a more person-centered parent... but you can use this for an agency. You can use that at home, in society. All of us can benefit from Person-Centered Thinking training. So if you need it, want to find out more about it, please contact me. I'll be glad to share information and set time to talk with you.
Alright, thank you. Remember everybody's meaningful, everybody's important and everybody wants a better life. Be the person that allows others to have the best life that they want for themselves. And that's why I teach person-centered thinking.
The US Social Security Administration provides benefits for people with disabilities and those who are retired. The disability benefits that the Social Security Administration offers are Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The two are quite different and the chart below highlights some of the nuances between the two. To find out more or to apply, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or check out https://www.ssa.gov/.
Birthdays are usually times of celebration. We celebrate the fact that one more year was added to a person’s life. For parents of kids with special healthcare needs, birthdays take on a deeper meaning. Each new day is a blessing. Every milestone, even the smallest one, is a HUGE deal. A birthday is not just a birthday. It’s a time we reflect on how far we’ve come and how much we have grown, and that’s not just in days and numbers. For special needs children, birthdays are not about adding one more year to life but adding more life to their years.
Perhaps you are sitting in the ICU or in another hospital room on your child’s birthday. Maybe your child is experiencing a setback. No matter the circumstances, I encourage you to find at least one thing to CELEBRATE. Celebrate even the smallest achievement. Celebrate the one medication that was discontinued. Celebrate that you found a doctor or therapist who is meeting your child’s needs. Celebrate the fact you are reading this right now and being inspired to celebrate.
YOUR CHILD’S BIRTHDAY IS ALSO YOUR CELEBRATION. You have labored all these years. The sleepless nights, the hospital visits, the hundreds of miles driven, all the therapy hours, and all the other sacrifices you made were all worth it. Your child celebrates another birthday because there was a mighty parent standing beside him or her each step of the way. So, don’t just pat yourself on the back but truly celebrate all that YOU have done to make this birthday possible. YOU ROCK, dear warrior parent!
It can be both therapeutic and memorable to make a birthday keepsake. Maybe it’s a poem you write, or a picture you draw, or an item you save that remind you of all that you and your child overcame that year. You never know when that keepsake will become your saving grace.
I usually write a Facebook post on my children’s birthdays to praise God for helping us through another year and to celebrate a milestone we reached that year. Below is my post from yesterday morning…
Happy 3rd birthday to my miracle child! 3 years ago today, unto me a son was born. He didn't have dominion on his shoulders and didn't carry healing on his wings but his amazing life quickly pointed us all to the One who does and did. He who is sovereign proved every day that my son's life is in His hands and that He rules over any sickness. He brought healing to my son in so many ways. My son still has many diagnoses and lot of medical appointments, but the gift of life is evidence enough of how he's been healed. Thank you, Jesus, for making more birthdays possible!
My dear Daniel, every year I cry on your birthday. I cry because I'm happy. I cry because I'm thankful. I cry because you're proof that miracles happen every day! Today we celebrate the fact that you were not admitted in the hospital at all this year and that you haven't been in the ER in the past 6 months!!! (You've come a long way baby). Although we added 2 new diagnoses to the list, this year was still your healthiest. As new doctors, nurses, therapists and other providers entered our circle of support, we are reminded that God is always with us and sends help in times of need. Thank you, Daniel, for pointing us to Emmanuel!
My dear friend, on your child’s next birthday, celebrate all that your child has accomplished that year AND your efforts in helping your child grow.
Happy birthday to all our December babies and kudos to their devoted parents for the amazing job they do!
A one-page profile/description is a Person-Centered Thinking (PCT) tool used to provide succint yet very useful informatin about someone. It can be used for many purposes such as helping a child transition to a new class or while hiring a new caregiver or service provider. You can even use it in your organization to boost collaboration between staff members. I use it in my counseling sessions to help me know my clients better and to help them start digging deeper into who they are as a person.
Below is a copy of my trainer's profile that I use to introdude myself to other trainers and trainees. I'm also including more information about one-page profiles provided by The Learning Community for person-centered practices, including links to a video and useful templates.
Where have they come from?
Laura had the first one-page profile in 2005 in the UK. She was 7 years old, and had moved into a new class, and her teacher was finding it difficult to get to know her. Her family did a shortened version of an Essential Lifestyle Plan on one page, because they did not think that the teacher would have time to read anything longer.
What are they?
One-page profiles are one page of person-centered information around three headings – an appreciation (for example – great things about me); what is important to me and how to support me (what you need to know or do to support me).
As we said at the beginning there are many ways to share person-centered information on a page, but if you want to call it a ‘one-page profile’ it will have these three headings and will not include:
What is the purpose of a one-page profile? How are they used?
A one-page profile can be used in three main ways:
What is core, and where you can use your judgment?
The three headings are core expectations of one-page profiles. You can call the Appreciation section whatever makes sense to the person (for example, like and admire, great things about me). The Board decided that using a heading about ‘introduction’ does not sufficiently convey appreciation.
You can add a further heading if that is useful in achieving the purpose of the one-page profile, if it is one of the headings that are used within Essential Lifestyle Planning, and person-centered planning for example:
People have got very creative in how one-page profiles are presented. This is down to your creativity and judgement based on what works for the person (as long as it does not compromise the readability of the profile)
Templates: Think and Plan.com - http://www.thinkandplan.com/
Using them with teams and in organisations: ‘Using person-centered practices with team and organisations by Helen Sanderson, Mary Beth Lepkowsky with Michelle Livesley and Ruth Gorman. http://www.helensandersonassociates.co.uk/media/72399/usingpersoncentredapproacheswithinorganisationsandteams-2.pdf
Video: One page profiles- personalisation http://youtu.be/fnaKnVWFh44
Chou is an Author, Speaker, Life Coach, Counselor and Consultant on a mission to inspire people to rise above their circumstances. She is passionate about helping others achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives. You can contact Chou at firstname.lastname@example.org