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  • Writer's pictureJoan Medlen

Resolution: Quality in Health and Life

Happy 2011!

Like most people, I am in a reflective mood this week. Of course, I’m also on the upside of a devastating accident. The mood is a bit more intense than usual.

Stick to that New Year Resolution

I’ve been reading the usual articles about people setting New Year’s Resolutions, advertisements for helping people be more healthy in 2011. I’ve also been taking in the many articles, cartoons, and videos that make fun of this process.

Why is it something to poke fun about?

Because we’re all dreamers. For the most part, New Year’s Resolutions are a rite of passage. Something we do each year with little thought to how we’ll accomplish it. To top it off, if you’re anything like me,  you make BIG goals.

For parents of kids with Down syndrome and related disabilities, this is can be disastrous. Face it. We’re not like other parents. We have all the same issues as other families, with a teeny tiny bit more. Focusing on ourselves, on our health, is harder. Focusing on our family’s health and creating a quality life for everyone can feel like climbing Mt. Everest.

It can be done!  And you do not need to do it alone. But you do need a plan.

From my observations as both a parent of a child with Down syndrome and autism, and health care professional, we can do it when we create a vision that includes the extra pieces we experience. We can shape our families to live a healthy, quality life in the same way.

The barrier? Sharing your vision and creating the goals toward that vision with someone who is skilled in wellness coaching and understands the uniqueness of your life.

Many years ago, I looked for someone I could talk to. My marriage was in trouble. My health was a mess. I hired a counselor recommended by a friend. I found that I paid more money to educate this person on why I could not do what she suggested to reduce my stress (due to laws around special education or the dynamics of raising my son with Down syndrome) than receiving support.  She gave us a referral for couples counseling, but I went alone. I wanted someone else. This second person had worked in the disability field before going into private practice. What a difference it made! I didn’t have to describe an IEP, explain that I can’t leave my 11 year old in charge of his brother so I can go for a fitness walk, or that I needed to spend time advocating for my family so we could live a quality life. It made the world of difference. Is our life picture perfect? Of course not! But it’s 100% better because I had a coach who understood the influence of disability on life.

The second lesson I’ve learned is that the disability community uses some terrific tools such as person-centered planning and MAPS/PATH tools. We also endure other planning methods like Individual Education Plans and Individual Support Plans (for adults). Our family has experienced all of these. In fact, we use a Person Centered Plan to guide us in the bigger goals for our son.

One of my good friends, the Executive Director of the Northwest Down Syndrome Association, shares her opinion that a person centered plan for someone under 18 is really a family centered plan. There’s some truth to that. I contend it is always a family centered plan. Seriously. If my kids aren’t living a quality life, no matter their age, I am not living a quality life.

But these tools are missing something typically, in their implementation.

Healthy living.

It needs to be an integral part of the plan!

I’m starting 2011 with a new focus for my work and my life.


Quality living, quality support, and creating quality lives for people with Down syndrome and related disabilities, their families, and the people who support them.

If this is a part of your plan for 2011, join me for a free webinar to begin honing your vision for quality living for you and your family and learn about coaching services. Together we will discuss the big picture. You will leave with a tool to create your vision of health for your family.

As always, my focus is on practical tools you can use.

We don’t have time for anything less.

What: Create Your Vision of Health for Your Family A free webinar When:  Wednesday, January 26, 2011 Time:  10am Pacific Time

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