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Monday, March 4, 2024

Little Friends: What does it mean to improve an individual’s ‘quality of life?’


In our world of helping individuals and families deal with the challenges and opportunities created by intellectual/developmental disabilities and autism, we sometimes hear about the importance of improving an individual’s “quality of life.” While a noble intention, I admit to struggling with knowing what that means exactly. Recently I was presented with some information that provides some clarity and is worth sharing.

In calendar year 2000, a Professor Emeritus from Hastings College in Nebraska, by the name of R.L. Schalock, published a paper on his findings on what Quality of Life was for those with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities.

This list was shared with others from our field of endeavor at a recent conference, and it struck me that I doubt I am the only one who ever wondered how to wrap my arms around “how to know our work (or anyone else’s work for that matter) is improving the Quality of Life for someone they serve.” I’ve used someone’s happiness and direct feedback to know. However, as evidenced below, there are other things to consider.

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The list below comes from my cryptic notes listening to our speaker present to a group on this topic. Please allow the author a little bit of leeway on the summary descriptions provided below.

  • Self-determination – A person’s ability to make decisions for themselves
  • Social inclusion – Being a part of a social network
  • Material well-being – Being safe and having resources to care for themselves
  • Personal development – Being able to learn and grow personally
  • Emotional well-being – Being and feeling OK about themselves
  • Interpersonal relations – Having relationships with others if they so choose and want to
  • Personal Rights – Being aware of their rights as an individual
  • Physical well-being – Being healthy and able to do things

The list itself is accurate and worth thinking through if wondering how your work affects another person you are providing support to. I’m not sure how to measure all of these, but think this list is a great start to know how we are making a difference. For those who help others, I hope you find it of value!

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Mike Briggs
Mike Briggshttp://littlefriendsinc.org
Mike Briggs is the President and CEO of Little Friends. Little Friends empowers clients with autism and other developmental disabilities to thrive in our community. Their groundbreaking programs and nationally-renowned staff provide lifelong opportunities for growth, so their clients can work, learn, play and experience the joy of life’s everyday moments.


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