What Will Happen With Money, Time and Measurement Issues? At our meeting two days ago with the service agency, Ability Beyond Disability, I brought out one of those refrigerator-size white 3-ring binders labeled “Career Portfolio” that Riverview/Grow and our daughter have assembled over two years. The contents include her vocational evaluations from Project Forward where she studied animal care, her resume, autobiography and an intricate color-coded calendar of her workweek schedule. Attached to one of the rings by lavender wrapping string is a thumb drive which when loaded will demonstrate how to create such a calendar for her new life. (This little string is particularly touching to me as it symbolizes the personal commitment of our daughter’s teacher Jean Goodwin and the Grow team to catapult this young lady into adulthood.) Apparently the folk at the meeting were not the group to receive this bounty. I believe the vocational and residential staff will be the proper recipients.
Proverbial Lump In Throat: I can hear the groans of “oh mom” cascading through my brain as I tear up. Reading our daughter’s autobiography and letter of introduction to potential employers is a gut-wrenching, side-splitting experience. In the letter, following the recitation of name, description of work experience and hobbies, is “I have a learning disability. I do my best when I am given one-step instruction with a picture and a demonstration. I need to perform the task back to my supervisor until I get it correct. I find it helpful if my supervisor frequently checks back with me.”
The Girl Is a Hoot: The autobiography is the side-splitter: “I am a super cool young lady and I know what I like and don’t like. One difficult thing that I have trouble with is when someone does not give me space. I am very fashionable and often times I wear a matching headband. My greatest strength is that I am a very nice gal and Ms. Farnham and my classmates adore me! I made them all laugh when I said this in my group brainstorm.”
How Can You Match That Care: For eighteen years I have witnessed educators labor over the ways and means to teach our significantly learning disabled daughter how to manage change, measure flour, choose the right number of seconds to heat a muffin in the microwave, and read time utilizing a ton of watch/clock/chart combinations. Her success in learning to read, handle all things Internet, label and verbalize feelings and advocate for herself was never matched by success in the areas of money, time, or measurement. That side of her twenty one year old brain lags behind the rest of her “Speedy Gonzales” like skills. Is that it? Is this the best she can do? There has been slow but steady improvement in the area of time, a bit. But who will teach her now?
Safety: Travel training was a big part of our daughter’s curriculum for the last two years, another area of significant challenge. She is still in the group who cannot travel alone. Parking lots and crosswalks remain dangerous. Will that ever change? And who will teach her now?
Are We Done Growing? The folks who will be working with our daughter are not specifically educators. From what I can surmise, the team includes professionally credentialed people such as behaviorists and nurses. The folks working on her vocational coaching may also have professional credentials. I am not sure as yet but will check into that. It is doubtful that special education teachers will be amongst her new “family” of support. That outstanding breed of humanity deserves most of the credit for our daughter’s growth. Can she grow without those folk? Not sure but we may have to put that element in place. We will see as we journey on.
Sphere Summer Art Program: Tonight begins the art program at a local church in our daughter’s future hometown, sponsored by Sphere.org. If the rain ever subsides, and the roads don’t require an aquatic vehicle to traverse, she will be there. This class will inaugurate her official involvement as an adult in her new hometown’s special needs community. Exciting for me, as this is a vision glimpsed some years ago and now fulfilled. Oh dear, not another lump in the throat.
©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011