My Heart Swelled: Yesterday was a pretty femme day, haircuts and two trips to Victoria’s Secret at the mall, the first at our daughter’s request to purchase undies with some graduation money. The second to buy a gift for a cousin, another Victoria fan. As we entered Victoria’s chambers, a patient rang me on the cell, sounding distressed. I took the call outside the store, but within view. After the conclusion of what was a 13.55 (cool when you can get precise data at your fingertips) minutes conversation, I re-entered the store, convinced our daughter was still picking through PINK panties. To my surprise, she was already at the checkout counter pulling out her wallet. My heart swelled. Hers did too, with pride: “I am buying this on my own.” Indeed.
Well, Almost: My hunch is if I hadn’t come at that moment, she and the patient young sales girl would have collaborated on the payment process, with the sales girl helping our daughter identify the correct bills and change combinations. Perhaps my presence made it harder for our daughter to select the correct bills, and as she fumbled a bit, I did dive in, aware that others were waiting on line which staff at her school may not have done. In any case, it brought me back to my question in an earlier post “Who Will Teach Her Now?” Her teacher at school had a folding system for each numerical; five were triple folded; tens twice and so on. If I had prepared her wallet beforehand, would she then have sorted through her monies with more success? Probably.
The Answer: Our service coordinator at Ability Beyond Disability responded immediately to my inquiry regarding staff make up and whom to give the 3-ring binder full of teaching materials:
…the behaviorist and nursing…are the professional supports. The backgrounds of the direct care staff team…in general are in teaching/special education; others are recent college grads, H.S. grads with experience in the human services field etc. Regardless of background or experience all staff participate in a comprehensive, full-time, two-week orientation with a variety of trainings specific to working with individuals with disabilities.
Skill building strategies and instruction are built-in to the residential and vocational programming…teaching methods will be incorporated in ___ daily life rather than classroom style…(the 3-ring binder information/thumb drive materials from Riverview) will be made available for the team to review. Around mid July I (the service coordinator) would like to set up a meeting to provide you with more information about the assessments that will be conducted, program structure, overarching philosophy and skill building strategies that will be employed to help ___build her life in the community.
Are We Happy Yet? Encouraged. I believe that the service coordinator’s description of staffing matches much of what our daughter experienced in dorm staffing at Riverview School. What might be missing is the presence of experienced special education professionals with years of training and teaching under their belts. But who knows, one of those “angels” might surface in the hiring process. Special education experts custom design strategies to enhance the individual student’s learning. New blood is always great to add to the mix so perhaps the combination of Riverview’s expertise coupled with ABD staffing experience and perspective will create just the cocktail our daughter needs for her future life.
Closing The Gap: I have seen how much our daughter can learn. Perhaps over time, that transaction of monies and panties will be truly autonomous, a solo flight without facilitation. So much else has, why not this?
©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011