Sunday, November 18, 2012

DSP Power

I am just home from a whirlwind mini-tour!  I was in Albany, NY, Wappingers Falls, NY and Annapolis, Maryland in the span of three and a half days.....I traveled with my colleague, friend and DSP advocacy-partner, Executive Director of NADSP, and Assistant Executive Director of NYSACRA, Mr. Joseph Macbeth.  In those three and a half days we had the great honor, privilege, responsibility and opportunity to meet over 400 Direct Support Professionals from many, many provider agencies. We were sharing the NADSP Code of Ethics (a major subject in the next blogs) and Direct Support Skill Standards and Competencies. Wow...sounds so exciting!!??  Well, was.

There is an amazing power and a spirit in the unity and collective voice of Direct Support Professionals. In fact, in these past few days I have been overwhelmed at the power of DSPs voices and spirits as they relate their heartfelt stories to us.  We spoke with people from a wide variety of settings and agencies.  The common theme at every session was in the incredible joy and pride that comes through these stories DSPs share in the work they do with people they support.  It is palpable and measurable and the passion coming from them is inspiring.

Power defined....(at least by Wikipedia).....Power is the rate at which energy is transferred, used, or transformed. The unit of power is the joule per second (J/s), known as the watt (in honor of James Watt, the eighteenth-century developer of the steam engine). For example, the rate at which a light bulb transforms electrical energy into heat and light is measured in watts—the more wattage, the more power, or equivalently the more electrical energy is used per unit time.[1][2]
Energy transfer can be used to do work, so power is also the rate at which this work is performed. The same amount of work is done when carrying a load up a flight of stairs whether the person carrying it walks or runs, but more power is expended during the running because the work is done in a shorter amount of time. The output power of an electric motor is the product of the torque the motor generates and the angular velocity of its output shaft. The power expended to move a vehicle is the product of the traction force of the wheels and the velocity of the vehicle.

Power in this sense is positive.  Power is about continuation, life-force and sustainability. In this sense it is a positive thing/attribute. This is really interesting and compelling in terms of supporting people with disabilities.  In our industry of developmental disability service, the concept of power has been demonized, bastardized and made into a negative. Ultimately, in my opinion power can be a tool and force if used and perceived in the right way. 

The power that I felt and heard in the words, stories and activities of the DSPs in the past several days is an indication of how people with disabilities are being supported in NY and in Maryland, we are in very good shape.  Power is not necessarily a bad thing.... unless it is used against people.  Most of the staff I met on this trip were using power and Participant EmPOWERment (one of the NADSP Skill Standards) in very real, positive and loving ways, all in support and advocacy with people they served.

DSP-Power, if it is ethical and competent, may just be what will save our world! 

More power to the ethical and competent DSPs I met this last few days!!!  We need you.  We appreciate you.  We love you!!!


  1. Dude- if that is what you use to charge you, no wonder you're amped all the time! Didn't realize it was so easily transferred or contagious...
    Or did you sneak in extra coffee... :)

  2. Hey Corrinne,
    My apparent "power" comes completely from my love and passion for what I do and the incredible world of Direct Support. Perhaps I am a geek but I truly get excited and empowered when I am around people that do this noble work. DSPs are helping to change the world each day for so many citizens with disabilities and people who would otherwise fade into the background. That really gets me excited.

    Coffee helps. Glad you are following....

  3. I can tell!! It is a wonderful thing, I hope it stays with you! What I meant was, I didn't realize that it is so easily transferred or contagious! lol Sitting in the seminars and workshops, the energy is definitely there, and I've personally felt it and left buzzing with it. (the coffee thing was a joke aimed at a bit you guys did in the ethics session I attended ;) that's all) It's just a little more difficult spreading the ohms, watts and joules where I am, before running out of steam. Good luck to you again, as always in this new direction you're taking, keep up the great work!