Working With, Living With Persons with Mental and Physical Disabilities.
by, 05-15-2010 at 19:07 (1162 Views)
I asked Robert if he would be interested in such a topic. With the rising rates of Autism in society it is almost guaranteed that everyone will at some point encounter a person who is either mentally or physically challenged.
Why did I choose to blog about this. Well they say you should write about what you know. I have worked for over 33 years in the M.R. field, many of the people I deal with carry dual diagnoses. I am also a parent of 4 children who are diagnosed with Autism. So you can say I do have a dog in this fight.
This is actually the first time i have written a blog. I see this as a work in progress that will at times talk of past happenings and at other times speak to current events. Names will be kept confidential to protect privacy, with the exception of my kids who I very proud of.
For this opening entry I want to get some housekeeping out of the way. First I am NOT a licensed anything, unless you count my Driver's License. I am NOT a psychologist, a Counselor, a Social Worker. In my professional life I am currently a supervisor in what is called the Therapeutic Activities Department. We provide Vocational Training, Day Programming and Specialized Activities for the individuals who reside at the Center where I work. It is a large facility, often called an institution, but like many things, the Center has changed over the years as well. More about that at a later time.
I started my career as a single man in his 20's working as an Aide on a Behavior Ward. It was where they put the worst of the worse. My job then consisted of providing personal care, conducting programs, escorting clients to doctors visits, community trips, etc. Also on the To Do List was breaking up fights and restraining aggressive clients. I have been injured many different ways, had the clothes torn off my back literally, been bit, kicked and almost stabbed. I've seen chairs, tables and radiators used as Frisbees and my head was the target. That was nearly 33 years ago. It has been a journey and a learning experience for me, and I am still learning.
One of the things I learned years ago was that each person with a disability is still an individual. That what works with one person, does NOT necessarily work with another. It may, but you always want a Plan B. Also I learned that some people with disabilities are very likable and nice to be around. Others are neutral, they are just sort of there. And still others are royal SOB's who would make Mother Theresa want to slap them. Also each person who works in this field will have their favorites and the ones they can't stand. It's totally individual. Different personalities on the part of worker and client that either mesh, clash or pass by without making a ripple.
I have taken Graduate level classes in Special Ed and Psychology and never learned much that was useful for my day to day job. On the job training, learning by doing, making mistakes and stumbling on successes have been the rule. In this line of work you need to become an expert in the person, NOT the condition. Team work, brain storming, an eye for details is what helps.
Moving on, in addition to work, I am a father of 8 kids here on earth, one in heaven. 4 of my kids have Autism, 2 with Asperger's, 1 with PDD NOS (look it up) and one who is questionable in his diagnosis but he is legally blind in one eye. My journey as a dad of kids with special needs began about 16 years ago when Ken was 18 months old.he went from normal, loving child to uncontrollable in 5 days, it was sudden, abrupt and unmistakable. He went from talking to a complete shut down for the next 5 years. NO EXAGGERATION AT ALL! It started after his DPT shot. I won't get into that argument, but you can't tell me it didn't happen, I was there and so was my wife. Doctors and experts were worthless offering no clue as to what was going on or what could be done. It was only by research on the internet that I finally saw the words Autism. That and a seminar my wife attended began to put the pieces in place.
I have had an expert at a very famous hospital tell me my kid was profoundly retarded with the IQ of a carrot, that is a quote from the Pediatric Neurologist. I let him live and left NEVER to return. My "carrot' is now an altar server at our church, sings in the kids choir, does judo, plays baseball and enjoys bowling. Also he cleans the house really good. I thank God that before I became a parent of special needs kids I had worked for almost 20 years with that population so I knew and Over Educated Idiot (the Pediatric Neurologist and his cohort in crime the Epeleptologist) when I saw one.
By ignoring the experts advice, constantly loving our kids and never settling for what we were told they could do, they are now much further ahead.
It is this experience that I will bring to this blog and hopefully bring readers up the learning curve. That is enough for know, stay tuned for more installments.