**Companion Resources Newsletter**
edited by Paul D. Leichty
Volume 2, No. 11 November 2000
Time finally caught up with me! The November Companion Resources Newsletter is actually coming to you in December! I’m sorry about that–but I hope that the lateness builds some anticipation and will be an extra incentive for you to pay attention to the reason I’m late.
Several months ago, I mentioned that I was taking a web design course. The deadline for the special project for that course was (you guessed it!) November 30. And…that project was a complete revamping of the Companion Resources web site! So stop on over to www.cresources.org and get your last look at the old site because in few more days you will see it no more. It will be replaced by a completely overhauled site with a nice green background.
More about the site later in this newsletter. However, as I took a look at Companion Resources again, I tried to think of the essence of what this newsletter and website is all about. I’d like to offer a summary of my thinking which will appear on the new home page.
I have re-focused the goal of Companion Resources a bit in light of my current calling to work with persons with special needs. The following text represents an abridged summary from the CR home page, interspersed with other features about the site.
The goal of Companion Resources is to help ordinary people to meet the extraordinary challenges of living with a disability or relating to persons with disabilities.
Companion Resources is built on three key concepts:
Persons with special needs experience most relationships as a client or patient with a professional person relating to them. Relationships of companionship, on the other hand, focus on mutuality. By learning to know each other as friends, we are able to learn from each other and help each other. The person with special needs feels safe and valued in the relationship and the person with more abilities is also able to learn and grow through the relationship by calling forth and naming the unique gifts in the other person.
Companionship is particularly important in dealing with persons with developmental disabilities and with mental illness. That is why Companion Resources will focus on these two areas. We will continue to offer more specialized information on autism and fragile X syndrome. Other specific issues may be added in the future.
In relating to anyone with special needs, we have found that the model of Gentle Teaching offers a more consistent and humane approach than the standard behavioral modification models. So we will continue to offer
It is often helpful to hear other people’s stories of relating to persons with similar conditions. Therefore, the right column of each Companion Resources web page will feature links to other resources, especially to books.
More people today are making an effort to include persons with special needs into the larger community. However, “community inclusion” is more than just putting persons in need into settings that are more “normal.” Community happens when companions build bridges from persons with special needs to other persons. Communities can be large or small, but true community means that all persons feel included and valued for whatever contribution or role they play in the life of the group.
Companions can learn much from community development models that start with the people instead of structures and institutions. The asset-based approach is particularly helpful because it consciously works at including persons who might not naturally be included in community life.
There are an increasing number of models of community life that start with building community around persons with disabilities and mental illness and then extend that community life toward the larger geographical community surrounding them. This is a new and hopefully growing edge of Companion Resources.
The middle section of each Companion Resources web page is the main content of the page. In most cases, this content will consist, as in the past, of annotated links to the best in information and community-building sites on the World Wide Web. The new site features updated links with the hope of continually adding new ones (and indeed, new *pages* if necessary), particularly as you the readers send me your favorites.
Families and companions build bridges from persons with special needs to the communities to which they belong. Often this effort requires specialized resources. Information is important so that companions can understand the special needs and communicate them clearly to others who relate to the person. Resources of support and encouragement are also helpful from persons who understand firsthand the challenges of a particular special need. Today’s technology puts a wealth of information at our fingertips. The telephone and computer also enable us to build new kinds of communities (sometimes called “virtual communities”) of specialized support to supplement our face-to-face communities.
Each page will feature a link to other resources besides just books.
As we approach the end of the second year of Companion Resources Newsletter’s existence, I am grateful for the support and encouragement of you as readers. Your comments help keep me going. Blessings to all in this holiday season!
Paul D. Leichty
“People Using Technology Building Community”