What is Adaptive Parenting?
Adaptive parenting is the use of creative solutions by parents with disabilities and those who support them to effectively protect, nurture, and meet children’s changing needs. Adaptive parenting gives parents with disabilities equitable opportunities to parent successfully and lead fulfilling family lives.
It was humbling to look back at my earliest work with people with disabilities and know now that I was doing it wrong. I began my career as a Community Integration Specialist, hired to promote inclusion for people with disabilities. The approach in that new era of deinstitutionalization was staff-directed social outings like bringing ‘clients’ to bowling alleys or the mall. While it was the right purpose for me, I had yet to learn the deeper principles meant to guide my work.
It wasn’t until I routinely drove a wheelchair van that I learned the importance of accessibility. ‘Accessible’ parking spots didn’t allow room to lower a wheelchair lift. Working with children with emotional and behavioral difficulties and autism taught me the value of self-determination, dignity of risk, and choice. People are much happier when given a chance and a say!
I saw first-hand what is possible when people with disabilities were allowed opportunities to hold valued social roles—such as when they went from feeling powerless to purposeful when hired for their first job. I learned about resilience and equity; when given equal opportunity, I saw individuals and parents with disabilities succeed.
I carried these principles into my home as a shared living and respite provider and into the homes, schools, hospitals, police stations, and offices I entered as a crisis clinician, service coordinator, team leader, and clinical coordinator. The principles guided me in my counseling practice and now through the homes, courts, and organizations I enter nationwide as a parenting assessment expert, consultant, and educator.
It has been decades of work, and while these ideals are still with me, they are not embraced by everyone. Some say parenthood is the last step to true community inclusion. Yet, parents with disabilities are refused the right to parent—not because of abuse or neglect, but because of discrimination and lack of support.
I founded SAGE Institute for Adaptive Parenting to help parents with disabilities get the support they deserve, decrease stigma, create truly inclusive communities, and prevent children from unnecessarily entering our overburdened child welfare system.
Please Contact Us to learn more about our organization, how you can help, and how we plan to fulfill our vision to “impart knowledge that inspires social change, garners support, and promotes equity for parents with disabilities and their families."
“There is no greater disability in society,
than the inability to see a person as more.”
– Robert M. Hensel
We believe that safety is paramount; and that respecting parents’ rights and protecting children’s welfare are necessary and compatible goals.
We acknowledge that everyone has the ability to learn and grow.
We strive to be objective and aware of personal biases always.
All people with disabilities deserve equitable opportunities to parent, exert control over their lives, have support, and be valued members of their communities.