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Recognize Your Direct Support Professional

This article was contributed by Kerri Erb, Senior Director of Quality and Programs.

Direct support professional (DSP), community skills instructor (CSI), habilitation technician (hab tech), CAP worker – whatever their names, these individuals should be recognized. Every day, they work one-to-one with individuals with autism, teaching skill acquisition and supporting them in reaching their goals. They become trusted friends, natural supports, and honorary members of families.

DSP graphicNext week, especially, we will take time to thank them during Direct Support Professional Recognition Week. The Autism Society of North Carolina employs hundreds of direct support professionals; without their dedication and continued efforts, many individuals on the autism spectrum and their families would not have needed support services. Some come to work for ASNC for a few months, others stay for a lifetime.

DSPs are the largest percentage of ASNC’s employees, and we learn how to improve what we do as an organization and as a system from them. Many full-time ASNC employees and managers got their start in the field through direct support work. Because of this understanding throughout the organization of the importance of DSPs, our ultimate hope is that an individual with autism’s life is improved in some way through their work.

Each year, ASNC honors one of our DSPs with the John and Claudia Roman Direct Service Award. The John and Claudia Roman Direct Service Award was endowed by Lori and Gregg Ireland to honor Christine Roman, the direct service professional who worked with their son, Vinnie. It was named for her parents, John and Claudia Roman. In their honor, we are taking nominations from families served by the Autism Society of North Carolina for this award. For more information on nominating your ASNC DSP for this award, please email Kerri Erb or Kari Johnston, Director of Services.

In recent years, we have recognized Alan Cohen (2013), Tanya Ahner-Mejia (2012), Lori Sweeney (2011), and Emily Bennett (2010) with this award for their tireless dedication, for their willingness to go above and beyond, and for making a real impact in the lives of individuals with ASD and their communities. They are the ones who make dreams come true.

We invite you to give your DSP a pat on the back, or make a donation in their honor, for a job well done this week (or any week).

Kerri Erb can be reached via email at kerb@autismsociety-nc.org or by phone at 919-865-5053 or 800-442-2762, ext. 1102.

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