Saturday, Chloe and I headed to the training center at Fidos For Freedom in Laurel, MD. Kyersten came with us which was a real treat as she normally has a ton of schoolwork to do, or has to work.

Fidos For Freedom is blessed with a great variety of personalities and people who volunteer in the training department. Kim, an apprentice trainer,  is one of the newer faces in the training department. She co-led the client chat with Tracy on Saturday. Saturday consists of 1 hour of training, and then a 1/2 hour “client chat”. The “chat” is usually a topic discussing problems/issues of an event coming up, or perhaps a client has had access issues, or other problem that week that the group as a whole can discuss. I always get a lot out of the “chats”.

Kim is a trainer, who just so happens to have a disability herself. She shared with us that as people with a disability, it is important to know what your own personal limits are. If you don’t know your limits, you can quickly get to the point where you aren’t able to take care of yourself or your valuable partner. Many disabilities are invisible. Other people often are not able to tell when you’ve reached a limit. She graciously gave me permission to share her list with you:

Basic Awareness Reality Check (B.A.R.C.)

1. Check in with yourself, physically and mentally – What are your early warning signs? Identify early warning signs that signal you are reaching your physical and/or mental limits.

2. Make a list, put it where you can see it, to have available for those times when it’s hard to remember.

3. What might cause you to not listen to your “body”/”mind”?  Ignoring those early warning signs? (i.e., feeling guilty, feeling that you “should” do something, wanting to “not give in to the disability”… etc., worrying about what other people will think?, not wanting to let someone down or disappoint them.)

4. List at least 3 things you do to take care of yourself. (Things that help you mentally or physically.) Make it a point to do at least 1 of the 3 daily.

5. It’s reasonable to remember that the list can change over time… as bodies age, or disabilities wax or wane… during times of illness… remember to check in with yourself, and update/change the list as needed.

6. Ask for feedback, from family members, friends, for things you might not recognize.

7. Practice letting people know, when you are having a harder time, rather than “hiding or covering up” your disability/illness, and how it’s effecting you.

8. Practice what you would need to say, during times when you are feeling better, just to get in some practice, before you actually really NEED to do it.

9. Ask yourself:  Are you taking as good care of yourself as you do of your dog? Clients, trainers, people, deserve the same kind of attention, and recognition of limits, as they give to their dogs. Remember, You cannot take care of your dog, if you do not take care of yourself.

Denise Portis

© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal

One thought on “B.A.R.C.

  1. Amen! What a wonderful list….everyone should follow this, disability or not. We are all better persons and can be valuable contributors to our families and communities when we take care of ourselves FIRST. When we do that, we can be better parents, spouses, friends, etc.

    Glad you got to have some mother/daughter time with Kyersten!

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