Guy began to leave his bed for longer periods of time. His appetite improved. He became strong enough to participate in a sheltered workshop program. Then he went to his workshop eagerly and more often.
The most amazing wonder of all was that after ten years, Guy Foster LEFT the nursing home to live in a Group Home setting, where he earns spending money from his job in a recycling center. He has a network of people with whom he exchanges letters and jokes; he has a standing invitation to drum with a group of Indian friends. He even enjoys regular visitors to his apartment and phone chats. He is proudly learning normal life skills.
At this writing, Guy Foster is 42 years young and full of vim, vinegar and vitality. He encourages others every day with his greeting cards, his empathy and his love. He also believes the world’s entire population should be drinking “his kind” of water!
What I would like to impart to anyone whose eyes have fallen on this page is this: Feed every family member organic whole foods when you can; pure, filtered water and lots of it. Get adequate amounts of sleep and rest and balance that with movement, exercise. Supplement everyone’s diets with whole foods supplements and add in green super foods and highly mineralized juices. Not just fruit juices, but the supplemental juice products used by the ounce. Use as much fresh, raw food as you possibly can because we all need the phytonutrients, anti-oxidants, enzymes and vitamin/mineral content that is so plentiful in fresh foods. I’d also encourage anyone to boldly immerse yourselves in the study of body work-Reiki, Ortho-bionomy, massage therapy- whatever strikes your fancy. Investigate the wonders of energy medicine. Learn all you can about herbs, homeopathic remedies, Macrobiotic foods, Ayurvedic methods, and whatever else resonates with you. Find a good chiropractor who understands that the body heals from the inside, not the other way around. Any health practitioner worth his salt will teach you a variety of complementary ways of working with bodies that may not be “perfect” according to someone’s standard. One more thing: Make the kinds of memories that cause you to laugh so hard your face and belly hurt!
Families who avoid artificial sweeteners, MSG, soda pop, processed, packaged and micro waved food products as well as fluoride-laden dental products will notice a huge improvement in the quality of their lives. These changes will be remarkable where issues are noted involving the nervous system, digestion, and elimination.
As soon as the physical body gets its needs met, the mental needs fall into line, along with the emotional and spiritual. When those requirements are satisfied, fewer behavior issues are problematic, sleep is more refreshing, cheer is the order of the day and peace can reign in the busiest household!
Thank you Connie for sharing with us the experiences that you have had and the knowledge that you dont have to accept life as status quo…you can seek therapies that enrich the lives of our special needs loved ones.
The Care and Feeding of Guy Foster—Part One
The care and feeding of any family of kids is an important undertaking. Every growing body needs lots of whole foods; good pure water; adequate exercise and sleep. Every body requires large amounts of hugs and laughter to mature properly. That’s what people have in common with one another.
I have had a lifelong interest in food, nutrition and all things pertaining to health so it was natural for me to gravitate toward healthy choices as I prepared meals for my growing family.
When we welcomed a certain charming three year old with multiple health issues into our family, it became all the more imperative to pay attention to what we all ate and drank and how we managed the care of our health.
The new kid on our block, Guy Foster, had four caretakers in three months before his arrival. Prior to that, he had lived in two hospitals and he endured multiple orthopedic, exploratory, corrective and brain surgical procedures. To be honest, Guy was an adorable, busy blob of humanity whose needs were monumental.
The most pressing issue was a shunt that keeps spinal fluid from collecting in his skull. There were many other challenges, too, but the most persistent was the dreadful odor that surrounded Guy’s body. No amount of scrubbing, no brand of soap, and no sort of deodorant offered any relief. It was a major concern.
Guy’s health had its ups and downs. When Guy was 29 he underwent a surgery that had a bad outcome. That’s when it was decided he should live in a nursing home. Only those who have gone through that process can appreciate the pain of that time in our lives.
During Guy’s tenure in the nursing home we discovered a new kind of water. It had more minerals and oxygen so we thought it would be good to get Guy to drink that. He even had a spray bottle for topical use.
We also acquired a magnetic mattress and pillow, along with a Far Infra Red comforter for the hospital bed on which he languished most of his days AND nights. We slipped magnetic insoles into his shoes, much to the chagrin of his orthotics and prosthetics specialists. They just did not fathom the concept.
The dietary people were unhappy, too. They did not appreciate or value the purpose behind the juice or “green stuff”-barley grass-we provided to accompany Guy’s meals and the nursing staff complained bitterly, loudly, and often that the whole foods supplements we brought for Guy had not been sanctioned nor labeled by the pharmacy department.
As time passed, we opted not to use any medications in Guy’s treatment. The medical staff at the nursing home became ENRAGED over that decision but as Guy’s legal guardian I had the right to make that choice. It was in Guy’s best interest, after all.
Over time, the toxicity of the medications eventually left Guy’s battered body, leaving him more alert, more active. The many surgical scars that covered much of his body had faded into oblivion. Best of all, even his breath was sweet! He was no longer plagued by the issue of odor!
Thank You Connie for your guest blog post!
There is a disturbing story today regarding a young disabled man, with multiple disabilities, who was recruited into the Marine Corps for service. I have to preface this story by saying that I love the Marine Corps. I have many friends and family who have served and I am proud of them and the Marine Corps. However, this story is disturbing because of the potential consequences for anyone unfortunate enough to be in this situation.
The young man’s name is Joshua Fry and he has been diagnosed as Autistic. He was living in a group home at the time of his enlistment; in fact, it is alleged that a Marine recruiter picked him up from the home and took him to the recruitment center to enlist. The background of the story, as I understand it, is that this young man was born to parents who allegedly abused drugs. He was diagnosed as being Autistic, as a young child. Joshua was allegedly abused as a child and he had learning disabilities. He struggled in school and had allegedly developed a relationship with a military recruiter. Joshua got himself into trouble allegedly for stealing and having a weapon; and, he was sent away to a treatment facility for counseling.
In the meantime, Joshua’s grandmother had custody of him and allegedly told the Marine recruiter to take Joshua’s name off of the call list as he was “not Marine material”. It would have been easy enough to check that out by following up with the school administrators. Those words should have been the end of any active pursuit of Joshua, as a person to be considered as a Marine recruit.
For a recruiter to continue to persue an individual like Joshua; it should be considered a crime. Many special needs people would love to be in the military; however, the nature of the job requires quick thinking, reliable decision making every time, the ability to use good judgement, and, to exhibit character traits that would be of an elevated level compared to the average individual. Some individuals able-bodied or not, no matter how how they try, are not going to be able to perform at those levels and meet those responsibilities. It is important that those in the military be able to do so because lives depend on it!
For many people with multiple special needs…being able to make fast, quality decisions regarding the safety and well-being of themselves, as well as others, is difficult; even under normal circumstances, but if you add into the mix, the stress and chaos of a war situation, it could be a dangerous combination. It is heartbreaking to have someone want to serve who just may not be qualified to do so because of a physical, emotional, or developmental disability. But encouraging that same individual to go ahead and sign up should be criminal…it is not in the best interest of that individual, the military personel who work alongside of them, or the families who love and support them, to the best of their abilities.
It is being alleged that when Joshua got out of the facility and entered the group home; he had re-established a relationship with the recruiter. If it is true that the grandmother had spoken to those at the recruiting station and told them of the problems with Joshua…that should have been the end of any attempts to recruit him. If that recruiter had the knowledge of the problems that Joshua struggled with; he should not have allowed Joshua to sign up.
Joshua’s grandmother had the courts approval to be his legal conservator. Basically, meaning that he was not able to sign most legal documents because he wasn’t able to completely understand the legal consequences in doing so. He had a low IQ, he was diagnosed as Autistic, bi-polar, asthmatic, he had learning disabilities and he had also been treated in an in-patient environment. For all of those reasons and more…he should never have been a candidate for service in the Marine Corps.
Once he got to boot camp, he found himself in over his head. He got in trouble for stealing food, for disrespecting authority, and, he was not following orders. He told those in positions of authority that he didn’t want to be a Marine and told them of his history. They agreed he shouldn’t be there after talking to his grandmother; but, instead of sending him home he was allowed to graduate boot camp. Months later, he was found to have pornographic photos on his cell phone…disciplined and instructed to not do it again. He failed and again was found to be in possession…this time with child pornography. What he did is wrong definately, does he understand that? That is the question…does he know what he did is wrong; and, is he capable of understanding that his actions have legal consequences?
He was arrested and is being held on a variety of charges that he probably does not understand and is incapable of avoiding committing over and over again in the same military environment that he should never have been allowed to enter in the first place. For heaven’s sake, this is an individual that was living in a supervised setting because of issues relating to the impulsive behaviors associated with his disabilities that didn’t allow him to live independently. How in the world is he expected to fulfill his commitment to the military? What will happen to Joshua and others like him? What kind of legal discipline will he be forced to accept? Will he be dismissed from service and returned to a supervised group home setting or will he be in the prison system?
While some disabilities allow individuals to perform many tasks related to military life…there is no guarantee that those are the only situations in which they will be needed to perform in. We have to be very careful about making decisions regarding allowing those with disabilities into the military. Their very lives could depend on it.
Recruiters are expected to persuade prospects to sign on the dotted line and become a member of our military service. However, people with documented low IQ’s, learning disabilities or medical or emotional issues that would prevent them from performing their duties in a safe and timely manner should not be “encouraged to join up”. This feels a little like it is taking advantage of someone’s lack of understanding. It is an unfair advantage to have knowledge that they could be put into situations that are not within their capabilities of handling appropriately; and, still encourage them to join the service.
We are in a time of war, men and women are needed to serve. However, it is wrong to recruit people who are at a disadvantage intellectually, physically or emotionally. This issue is going to become more of a problem because of some changes being made to the educational requirements across our nation. Many special education students are caught between a rock and a hard place with the raising of educational requirements to graduate. Many of them will no longer be allowed to get a diploma…they will be getting a certificate of completion instead. Some of them will have to go to high school for 5-6 years, as the additional requirements are phased in. This is already resulting in many students either dropping out of high school or choosing to get a GED. Many more will try to seek a position with the military because of the lack of jobs available for special needs persons. Just because someone is disabled or has special needs doesn’t mean that they are not patriotic; it doesn’t mean that they don’t want the respect that being in the military can give them. Many would love an opportunity to be a hero for their country by serving. This makes them vulnerable to outside influences when it comes to signing up.
It is important that the Marine Corps does what is right in this situation for Joshua and others like him. He was out of his element here; and, it should have been stopped by those in a position to do so before he ever signed on the dotted line and spent one day in boot camp. Many eyes will be watching. Parents, agencies, friends and educators…please be aware that your special needs students are vulnerable to the desire to serve their country. It is admirable, but they are also vulnerable to recruiters who need to put people into the service and are more than willing to talk to your students in a way that makes them even more determined to serve; whether they are fully capable of doing the job safely, or not.
What are your thoughts on these issues?
“Moving Day Can Be Moving”
Jarry and Andy, two guys who went to Special Education classes, found their way into the Mid Nebraska Individual Services program as soon as they left school. Both fellows lived at home with their parents but when they left the classroom they qualified for workshop and housing benefits. The two were already well acquainted from their school days and were close to the same age, so they made good housemates. Staff looked after them during the hours they were not involved in sheltered workshop activities, ensuring all their needs were met and they were well cared for, living in a comfortable home on a lovely tree lined street.
Jarry managed to find work in a warehouse and if it had not been for a health condition, he may have been gainfully employed like any other high school graduate.
Andy, on the other hand, exhibited some behavioral issues that precluded private employment. Instead, he shone in the workshop by folding mechanics’ towels, counting the bundles and stacking them.
Both boys matured and learned life skills as their abilities allowed.
It was shocking for them and their families to learn that the owner of the house they rented was going to move back and wanted her house for her own living arrangements. It did not take long, though, before arrangements were made for the guys to live in a newly erected apartment building and they acquired a third housemate, Ron, who shared expenses in the new place.
Moving was exciting for the boys then because each would have shiny new living quarters, the same familiar staff, and new furniture! The parents heaved and hauled all the boys’ belongings to the new digs and helped them get settled.
Change is very difficult for anyone. For people with disabilities it can be traumatic. Ron worries that he will never see his Elvis posters and that he might get lost, Andy is sure he will never be able to find his miniature windmills and obsesses about where the calendar will hang. Jarry just wants to know all about the closets and make certain he’ll have enough room for his Nebraska Cornhusker collection. Change requires a great deal of reassurance and routine!
More than a decade has passed since that major event. The apartment complex no longer allows patio grills, Andy cannot play his drums without disturbing the neighbors, and the management is not willing to make needed repairs to their apartment. It has been decided that more suitable living arrangements can be made by moving the fellows into a six-plex complex near the downtown area. All their needs will be accommodated beautifully in comfortable, affordable surroundings. They will retain their loving staff, the Elvis posters, the windmills and calendars. And Jarry’s room has enough storage for his growing collection of ‘Go Big Red!’ items!
But the very best feature of all? Moms and Dads won’t have to do the heavy lifting this time. Professional movers have been called!
Fear of loss figures into any move for anyone. As a move takes place, we risk losing the familiarity of our routine, the comfort of known surroundings. We may have difficulty remembering where the light switches are placed! We may be concerned that we can find our belongings when we arrive at the new location. This houseful of guys is no different in that respect; their fears may just be amplified and they will no doubt need large doses of reassurance and routine until the new place becomes old hat. They are most fortunate, as are the families, to know that Staff has everything under control and all will be well.
Moving may be a moving experience but it can also be a great adventure! Andy, Jarry and Ron will eagerly and cheerfully share their photo books to prove that point!
Connie Baum-guest blogger