DSP's Making a Difference: Sheila Robinette
As part of DSP Recognition Week, FADSP is pleased to recognize direct support professionals (DSPs) who are making a meaningful difference in the lives of the people they serve. Sheila Robinette is one of those DSPs.
Sheila has been employed with Leon Advocacy and Resource Center (LARC) for 18 years. She has worked with one individual with autism the entire time she has been employed with LARC, even though their journey got off to a rocky start and interactions were difficult. The client exhibited aggressive and maladaptive behaviors and required a set schedule that literally covered every minute of Sheila’s day. Variations from the schedule resulted in major upsets and there were many days in the early years when Sheila would come into the office with scratches and bruises resulting from the client’s inability to cope with life.
Sheila saw beyond the present and had a vision for the future. She tried different activities such as horseback riding, skating, and volunteer activities in the community that interested her client. She learned to anticipate and help ease disruptive behaviors. She also helped create reasons to laugh by creating situations and private jokes that she knew her client would find humorous. Sheila helped her client develop computer skills and made sure the other staff continued those efforts. She even studied to become a Certified Behavioral Assistant to better help her client who now has a part-time job, does volunteer work, goes out to eat on a regular basis, and participates in community events.
Sheila plays a huge role in every undertaking of our agency: Securing donations for fundraisers, spearheading spring and fall dances, serving as back up for staff at other houses, and orchestrating parties and cookouts for individuals served at LARC. Using her own time and money, she has taken folks to Disney World, festivals, the beach, and more. The list goes on and on! She is constantly leading and mentoring the rest of the team to ensure continuity and person-centered service. Sheila has the gift of seeing possibilities inside every person, coaxing that potential, and finding what works to maximize it. She has advocated for and obtained needed services and has successfully fended off service cuts at due process hearings.
Leon ARC jokes they wish they could clone Sheila – the work ethic, the innate respect for the individuals with whom we work, the creativity, and the ability to really make a difference in the lives of the people she touches. Sheila was the finalist for 2009 Irwin Siegal Direct Support Professional of the Year, was the 2016 Pyramid Studios Volunteer of the Year, and the record holder for LARC Atta-Way-To-Go recognitions.
Thank you, Sheila, for your continued service to the individuals served at Leon ARC!