by Abby Mackey
Melissa Skiffen was sitting in on a middle school IEP meeting a few years ago when all attention turned to the student’s difficulty with computer class.
Every adult in the room volleyed their well-meaning suggestions to improve his relationship with the class, until Melissa, an Achieva Disability and Family Supports Advocate, demonstrated a different approach: She turned to the child, and asked him.
“What’s hard about computer class?” she asked. He didn’t like it, as it turns out.
“What do you like?” she continued. He was interested in art, but since no one had ever considered his opinion, art classes had never been on his schedule.
Certain transitions in life get a lot of attention: starting school, learning to drive, becoming an adult, and others. But transitions can be found across the lifespan, even prenatally, and in far more ordinary situations than these marquee moments.
That’s why Melissa and Jack Butler, Achieva’s Director of Person-Centered Supports, on behalf of Achieva Advocacy, will remotely host “Charting the Life Course through Life Transitions” on March 22, 2023 at 6:30 p.m.
As “Charting the Life Course” ambassadors, they’re trained, in part, to notice the subtle transitions in life and apply the Charting the Life Course framework to help people of all abilities and ages set goals and reach them with appropriate supports.
“This isn’t about disabilities. It’s just about people,” Melissa said. “And for those with disabilities, it’s not just for someone with an intellectual disability, or autism, or a physical disability. It’s for anyone.”
The online presentation will be live and interactive, but if more individualized assistance is needed, self-advocates and caretakers can reach Achieva at 412-995-5000 x486 or via this contact form.
“Once we start involving the person at the center of the plan, with disabilities or not, things come into focus,” Melissa said. “It’s about putting a person who’s often been excluded from conversations into the middle.
“I like to think I work with people, not for people. That we’re doing this together.”
Person-centered Supports at Achieva