Leap Year: 1-30-12

Six Month Review: How symbolic that the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services (DDS) has scheduled our daughter’s six month review on February 29, 2012, Leap Year! It will be six months since the August 1, 2011 move to her apartment in Ridgefield that has become her adult home. Leap indeed. What has transpired in these six months seemed like “The Impossible Dream” a year ago, a dream that only a Don Quixote of a mother could believe would come true.

What Does That Dream Look Like Today? How do you paint a picture of a dream? How do you match the paint colors with the images of the mind? Maybe Salvador Dali could answer that question but as a non-painter yet a committed dreamer, I can vouch for the fact that a dream can be transferred from the mind to the canvas of a life. Even when it is not your life. And that, so far, is what has occurred for this mother of a special needs child. My dream for our daughter has been realized in her world today. Imagine that!

A Typical Week: Our daughter’s “work week” begins at nine Monday mornings at her DSO (Day Services Option) program where a group of recently “aged-out” young adults attend six hours of social programming at Ability Beyond Disability’s Bethel, Ct. headquarters. At three o’clock our daughter then returns to her apartment and either exercises at the Ridgefield Park and Recreation Center with her apartment-mate and staff or attends another activity. (For a while she was attending a yoga class.) Tuesday she returns to the DSO where they might go bowling, attend a music class, help with volunteer activities or some other pursuit. Tuesday evening she and her apartment-mate participate in Angelfish Aquatic Therapy. Wednesday is errands and an apartment meeting with the behaviorist and other staff and a physical activity. Wednesday evening includes a special outing. Thursday is a vocational day where our daughter helps set up “chair yoga” at the senior residence Ridgefield Crossings with her vocational life skills staff. Thursday evening she participates in SPHERE, a theater program. Friday she goes to two jobs: ROAR, the animal shelter where she helps clean out litter boxes and receives training in how to care for the animals, and The Complete Cat Clinic, where she helps to groom the cats and socialize the kittens. Throughout the week our daughter does her chores, shops and cooks with staff who work with her to increase skills for independent living.

Weekends: Friday night is usually veg-out time at the apartment. Saturday she has her Pegasus Therapeutic Riding Program, though during the winter she attends their un-mounted program and has just acquired the skill of taking a horse out on a lead. Saturday and Sunday afternoons are replete in a variety of stimulating activities: going to a museum, a nature center, a flea market, theater, a fair or a movie. And interspersed throughout is quality time spent with her family, who both drop in to take to her lunch, or on an errand, or for longer outings to extended family functions, theater, whatever moves us. The ease with which she can be a part of our lives and we a part of her life delights us all in a profoundly meaningful way.

What A Leap: Does our daughter like her new life, and her new home, and her apartment-mate and staff? Totally. Have there been glitches? You bet. But what a leap from twelve months ago when all was a dream. I am aware that the perfection of this moment is not forever. Nothing ever is. But I can dream that the worst is over, that the formless canvas of her adulthood that rippled through our lives for two decades has filled in beautifully and will never be as frightening again. Fingers crossed.

©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2012

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