The Pop-In: I did do the pop-in at noontime. The little bus was late but off our daughter went to her first day of two-per-week attending a group program at ABD’s Leir Pavillon. Just twenty minutes from our home, I was able to dash over between sessions to observe the Day Support Options, a fairly ambiguous term which refers to group socializing in their center alternating with travel to outside activities. ABD originated over forty years ago (known then as DAHTAR) as a parent-founded organization and by the 1980’s started providing services for traumatic brain injured as well as intellectually challenged adults. Having previously toured the facility with our daughter, it was no shock to see very impaired individuals sitting around tables having lunch and for the most part, enjoying themselves. (Since the age of three, our daughter has shared classrooms with helmeted and wheelchaired peers with varying disabilities, some without speech, some with active seizure disorders, others blind. For her the population scattered about the ABD building was familiar.)
Renzo: I found our daughter in a separate room with a group of five young women eating lunch. Their leader was a warm and welcoming young fellow, Renzo, whom my daughter later described as cute, kind and fun. That evening when I asked her what was the best part of the day, numero uno was meeting Renzo, followed by Laurel, a mirthful member of her new group. Her apartment-mate was there too, seated close by her side and they all seemed quite happy. I wasn’t that happy though. Renzo informed me that a plan to go to a Y was cancelled due to summer camp programming. DUH! Instead they made designs to decorate their “room.” Shades of pre-school. After lunch they were headed to bowling. O.K.
The Part Of Me I Don’t Like: Later that afternoon our daughter called to say that the bus had a flat tire and Renzo wanted to speak with me. Since they had to switch buses her return home would be delayed a bit. Now we have the cancelled morning outing, the pre-school art project, and a flat tire. Though the moon hadn’t risen, I did feel myself transforming into that mother werewolf person, imperious, judgmental, disapproving, and about to draw blood. This is the unlikable me, or one of them, who storms into a school building, or picks up a phone or rushes to send a scathing email. Precipitous, impulsive and unfair. It is the first day of a new program.
You Are A Shrink? And I should know better. Fear often underlies the ugliest of behaviors. And I was frightened, threatened that our daughter would not be stimulated, would regress, would spend her days with a glue stick and some markers. And that I was failing her!
Reassurance From The Source: By the time I put a call into one of the service coordinators, the bus was an hour late. They did call from a town 1/2-hour east to say they were on their way. Again our daughter sounded fine. This is typical bus stuff known by all parents where a kid is taken miles away from home just to bring them back, because of a “route” and budgets. UGG! But I knew we had only two more weeks of this and even then, just twice a week, until she moved into her apartment where they have their own van.
Yet I had to make that call. The service coordinator I reached out to is in charge of residential programming, not the Day Support Options. She has made herself available to me at all hours and did so again, providing a useful perspective on this neophyte process suggesting that I meet with the coordinator of DSO. By the time my daughter gaily leaped off the bus, I was no longer fanged or clawed. And of course, she was the best reassurance of all: “I had a great day.”
Mom!!! Get Over Yourself.
©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011