SD Network

Member Spotlight: Dave Baker

user image 2018-08-31
By: SD Network
Posted in: Member Spotlight

dave.jpgMeet Dave.  As a Behavioral Consultant, he helps to develop an understanding of what people are trying to communicate or achieve through behavior.  He’s pleased that Wisconsin MCOs are starting that “challenging behavior” doesn’t always solely fall on the person, so solutions addressing things such as living and work environments and family dynamics.  He believes that interdependence should be the goal of a self-determined life.  We’re so fortunate to have Dave as a member of the Network! 

How are you involved with self-determination? Why did you join the SD Network?

Dave is president of Meaningful Living LLC (  As a Behavioral Consultant, he works with both the service system and individual being supported by it.  His goal is to help support teams develop an understanding of what an individual may be trying to communicate/achieve through their behavior.  He explains that typically individuals get referred to me when all other options have failed and an individual is at risk of losing their job, house or freedom.  He works with individuals to help them advocate for themselves and get what they want without all the punitive consequences they may not enjoy.  “In other words, if their behavior helps them meet a need, I help create supportive environments that encourage them to explore alternative methods of getting their needs met.  In fact, I don't insist individuals change their behavior. I help them understand the connection between the decisions available to them, potential outcomes, and accountability,” he says.  Dave joined the SD Network because it consists of people providing services as well as individuals receiving them. He strongly believes those who receive services should have a voice in how services are provided and a place where they can speak to those of us who provide them.  “I wanted to be a part of that,” he explains.  

Tell us some good news - what's the most exciting thing happening for you (or in Wisconsin) in terms self-determination? 

From Dave’s perspective, the most exciting thing happening is Wisconsin, in terms of Self-Determination, is MCO's are beginning to recognize responsibility for "challenging behavior" doesn't always fall on the individual, and therefore, ever so slowly, the landscape is shifting from interventions focused primarily on pharmaceutical solutions, to solutions that also include addressing one’s living situation, work environment, and even family dynamics. “The idea behind this is that changes that occur as a result of a more knowledgeable and understanding staff/team, and a more empowered individual, will be more meaningful and longer lasting for all involved,” he states.  He explains that medications alone may aid in reducing challenging behavior, or gaining compliance from the perspective of the service provider, but it may also threaten the voice and wellbeing of the person being supported.

What tip or resource would you like to share with people who want to be more self-determined?

Dave suggests that people expect these things from himself/herself as well as those supporting him/her:

-Be yourself.

-Have the courage to be imperfect.

-Accept responsibility for the choices you make.

-Learn from mistakes and use those lessons to grow as a person.

-Value what you do.

 -Be creative - there is usually more than one way to get from point A to point B.

What message would you like to share with the members of the SD Network?

In Dave’s field, their focus has always been on helping individuals achieve independence. He explains that unfortunately, one can be fully independent and still feel isolated and alone.  That’s why Meaningful Living's motto is, "Providing a foundation for interdependent pro-social community living."  He believes that interdependence, a mutual reliance between an individual and his or her community, should be the goal of a fully self-determined life.  The people he supports have a lot to offer their communities…as providers, they need to do more than implement, “support services.”  He believes they need to do a better job of helping our communities understand, appreciate, and value those they are supporting.  Then, ideally, many of the “services” will no longer be necessary. 

What are some of your hobbies?

Dave enjoys playing and coaching soccer, drawing, doing outdoor activities with his family and taking their dog for walks.


***We love hearing the views and opinions of Network members. We need to mention that the views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the person who is sharing them. They do not necessarily reflect InControl Wisconsin or any of our supporters and funders.


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