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The Ripple Effect of Helping

Helping is more than providing assistance to an individual with a disability. There is an element of kindness involved, too. A number of research studies have shown that performing an act of kindness (helping someone) benefits the person giving the helping hand, the person (or people when it’s a group activity) receiving the help, and anyone who witnesses the act being performed. The feel-good hormones of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin get stimulated, even if an individual simply sees the kindness being performed, or the help being given. This can be seen as a domino effect of positivity and who knows how far it will spread?

All helping is about kindness, if only as a kernel of subconscious thought. A direct support professional, for example, may insist that they are “doing this until I finish my undergrad degree”, but something else is definitely involved. The same, if not better, money can be earned at a fast-food restaurant, but there’s something else involved in choosing to work with people who have disabilities. Those who help people with disabilities at some level can be seen to be especially kind.

There’s that ripple effect of kindness. An easy way to picture it is by imagining a stone dropped into a still pool. The small waves (or ripples) keep going until an outside element, like a pond bank or seashore, stops it. So, with the presence of social media in our world, it is theoretically possible to affect all the people on earth with one act.

Helping can take different forms. The two major types are direct and indirect. Defining direct help is pretty straightforward. Any action that directly helps the person with disabilities. Some examples of this are:

  • Driving someone to an appointment
  • Assisting with ADLs
  • Helping to balance a checkbook, or pay bills
  • Sorting medications
  • Preparing a meal

Family members, friends, and DSPs provide the bulk of direct help.

Indirect help is anything that helps a person with a disability without directly interacting with the individual. Some examples of this:

  • Securing funding for a particular program
  • Finding and setting up a facility for future use
  • Creating lesson plans and accumulating the necessary supplies that go with each lesson
  • Hiring and training the DSPs who will be providing the actual direct help

Colleagues, coworkers, peers, and others provide indirect help.

Helping someone to more easily live with, and work around, various disabilities, is both challenging and rewarding at the same time. At some point or another, the helper also needs help. RISE is an agency that has remarkable success with programs to help both people with disabilities and those who help them. To start the process, reach out to RISE at and fill out a contact form.