“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
Ok, I know in practical terms…teaching independent living skills along the way while raising children is just common sense. However, as one of my children is approaching his last year in high school…it feels like I have an egg timer alongside of each day.
My son is a senior in high school. There is not much time left to teach him some really important lessons. Where we live, in a rural setting, there is not some great program available to him to continue educating him after graduation. In Michigan, if my son goes for his diploma at the end of the year; as opposed to a certificate of completion…his educational opportunities as a special ed student come to an end. If he wanted to continue in the school system, he could choose a certificate of completion…but, the only available program for him is a daily living skills program. While that is a valuable tool, it doesn’t in my opinion outweigh the benefits of going for the diploma.
Because we live in a rural area….there is not much opportunity for employment, in general, let alone if you have special needs that can hinder your employability.
The things that are important to my son at this stage of his life…are dual edged. He wants to drive a car. He wants to hunt. He wants freedom to make his own choices. He wants to work. There is nothing wrong with wanting those things…but in some cases, those very things are difficult to achieve or not in that person’s best interest.
My son’s abilities are limited because of several factors. He reads at a first grade level…and that, is with difficulty. He has problems with assessing safety situations. He is wanting to work…but sometimes, has trouble staying on task and focussed. These issues are going to limit his ability to hunt, to drive, to live on his own without some sort of safety backup plan.
Our plan is to work with him on planning meals and grocery shopping; he also likes to hoard food and eat it almost as soon as it is purchased That won’t be condusive to living on his own if he cannot somehow understand the concept of planning and executing a plan for purchasing and divying up the food purchases to make up meals for a set number of days at a time. He will have to show more care with personal hygene; it isn’t high on his list to change his dirty clothing when going away…he just doesn’t think about it. He will need to learn to think ahead for those situations.
We are wracking our brains trying to come up with some type of job that he is able to do and excited about doing. Many of the types of jobs he wants are not realistic. We have enrolled him in an class that will be working towards teaching him an employable skill. I think he will take pride in this; if he continues to enjoy it once he gets into the curriculum.
Housing, we are blessed that we were able to plan ahead for this years ago. We purchased a house next door to us years ago with the intention of using it for independent living skills for our boys as they became ready. This will allow close supervision but also allow for them to feel independent and “free” to be a grown up.
This year will hold many surprises and advancements. It is an exciting and scary time for him and for us. We all have a lot to learn as we transition to adulthood together! Here is a great link of things to consider when easing into independent living: http://www.teachersfirst.com/sped/parents/transition/eric-lifeskills.html