Charles Dickens Pays A Call: 6-18-11

A Rich Disparity: Special Needs people are not of one ilk, as those who move in that world know. There is a wide-ranging diversity. Yesterday, driving our daughter for a follow up doctor’s visit for a quick check of TB shot spot (required by the service agency), I put on the 3rd CD from Charles Dickens’ Bleak House audio series borrowed from a local library. I am addicted to great literature and books on audio. The former from childhood, the latter since raising our children. For many years our daughter struggled to read. One day it dawned on me that combining the visual with the auditory in the car might give an added push to this daunting project. Off to Costco I go to buy Goosebumps audio CDs with accompanying books. That coupled with an amazing musical/story series from Canada on the great composers, including Mr. Bach Comes To Call, for our musical son, introduced an educational component to long rides in the car that reaped great rewards.

Spoiling The Ending, With Delight:¬† Our daughter listened for a few minutes to Esther and Mr. Jarndyce chatting about the easterly wind, and said, “I know that story. I watched a clip of it on YouTube.” Not only did she know it, but also she told much of the tale including the ending, oops, which I had not recalled from a previous read probably 40 years ago. For the following 30 minutes of the ride we interspersed listening and talking about who marries whom, who dies, who gets killed (that was unclear) and what this Chancery stuff was all about. This is typical of our daughter. With an I.Q. low enough to qualify her for lifelong services and who bears some resemblance to the character Harold Skimpole in the aforementioned novel who neither understands money nor time, she rocks when it comes to so much else. As a youngster with little language, it was difficult to gauge just how much she understood. I saw the first glimmer of the presence of a higher level of comprehension while the family was watching a movie and it became clear that she understood what was happening in the story. That moment shifted our worlds. Indeed there was a smart thinking girl inside that cute little towhead.

Daddy’s Birthday: The Father turns 66 years old tomorrow, on Father’s Day. Wonderful yes. Old parents for sure. But there is always an upside to the downside. Interestingly, this birthday affects our daughter in a manner beyond sharing in the cake and presents. Now that Dad is 66, his disabled daughter qualifies for benefits from his social security. As of July, she will no longer receive SSI. She shifts to SSD. In two more years, she will be eligible for Medicare, which provides superior coverage, and her Medicaid, which came with her SSI, will become her secondary insurance. Given the current politics of these programs, the future is not set in stone, but for now she is okay.

Happy Birthday Dad! She gets her smile, humor and abundant curiosity from you and her love of a great story from Mom. But what she makes of all that and more is her own “special” concoction befitting the likes of an amazing Dickensian character full of abundant surprise.

©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011

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