By Kari McBride, Guest Writer
Our Voices is a series featuring guest bloggers in their own words sounding off on disability issues in Arizona.
Kari McBride is currently pursing her Masters in Social Work at Arizona State University. She previously obtained her bachelors degree in family and human development and has desired to work with children and families since graduating. At home, she is the mother to a 7-year-old little girl who has developmental and intellectual disabilities and the most infectious little smile.
Think back to elementary school, somewhere around third or fourth grade, when your teacher introduced you to the concept of the Venn diagram. It seemed relatively straightforward as you drew your circles, labeled each one with the category and then put the sub-category words into the corresponding circles. Somewhere in the middle of your Venn diagram is the overlap of all your circles, and the smaller set of words or items that you were studying. As a child, you may have used Venn diagrams to help you outline your book report, compare and contrast results for a science project or as a part of a math assignment. As an adult, you are probably less likely to still use the Venn diagram, though if you were stop and think about the various roles you fulfill, you likely would find some degree of commonality, or overlap, in your circles.
The overlapping circles in my personal Venn diagram, combined with the ever-changing circumstances created by COVID-19, resulted in the perfect internship opportunity presenting itself in which I would be able to apply my personal, professional and academic experiences. As a result, for the past 5 months I have had the privilege of working as an intern with the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. While I have fulfilled the hours set forth by my academic institution, and I have completed all projects assigned to me, saying goodbye and parting ways with ADDPC is bittersweet. In many ways, my experiences over the past several months have proved to be invaluable as I continue along in my own personal, professional and academic journey.
Personally, I am a mother to a super sweet 7-year-old little girl who has intellectual and developmental disabilities. Over the past seven years while learning how to be a parent, I have also learned how to navigate the many systems that are involved when caring for a child with special needs. While it is truly a blessing to be a parent, many parents and caregivers will also understand the added stress, frustration and fears that come with parenting a child with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
Professionally, I have worked for the state’s child welfare agency, the Department of Child Safety, for almost eight years. In this time, I have worked with countless numbers of children who have experienced neglect and/or abuse to help them safely reunite with their parents or caregivers. Having a personal interest in working with children with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and high medical needs, I often found myself working to support these families and help them navigate the many systems they now found themselves involved with.
Professionally, I am currently a graduate student at Arizona State University where I am pursing my Masters in Social Work. With less than a year until my anticipated graduation date, I am working hard to gain all the knowledge possible so that I am ready to practice and continue to support children and families. Interning with ADDPC has allowed my professional knowledge base to expand far more than I anticipated and I am grateful to have had this opportunity to work with such a committed group of individuals who fearlessly advocate on a daily basis.
As I look forward and what is to come next, I can’t help but reflect back and look at the events that have transpired that have led me to where I am today. I think of how many category changes must have happened in my personal Venn diagram and many other individual’s paths I must have crossed as they navigate their own paths. I am grateful for each experience and that I have been able to step inside each circle- as a parent to a child with an intellectual/developmental disability, as a professional working in child welfare and as a student continuing to seek further educational opportunities.