Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Transitions "Please Bring on the Chairs"

Nicky was in 4th grade the first time a therapist said we needed to begin helping Nicky with work skills. It sounded great, until they told me what they had in mind; Nicky stacking chairs in the classroom after the kids left so the janitor could sweep up.   I thought “That’s it?!, we’re preparing my child to be a chair stacker, what’s he doing working his way up to, janitor! That’s the best we have to offer him? He’s just a little kid and we’re training him to be a janitor! Oh no not my child, he’s a smart kid, NO not my Nicky.  

He’s in 7th grade now, and with high school  right around the corner and the real world in view, I’ve changed my tune.  Today all I can say is “Please, bring on the Chairs!”  Well not necessarily chairs, but please help him learn independence.  When he was 7, it was too soon for me to think about Nicky the adult, it was all I could do to meet the needs of Nicky the child.  It seemed so far away, but now it’s almost here and I feel the pressure of teaching him life skills while he's in school.  Fortunately for me his teams are wiser than I had the ability to be, they've pushed independence skills into his program for years at home and at school.  Thanks to them he’s been learning all along.
Today I just want him to be able to have a job, and I understand the baby steps to that goal are giving him responsibilities.  If he is going to survive in the world and feel good about himself, he must have jobs that he can do independently so jobs it is. At home it’s  feeding the dog, taking out the recycle, taking out the trash, putting  his plate in the sink, cleaning up his playroom, and eating at the dinner table with a place-mat, napkin and fork, making his own snacks.  His school has a little farm and he loves animals. He has a job working on the farm and he works everyday raking, feeding, and gathering eggs. His team has set up a system to simulate a real work place complete with a clipboard in the office where he checks in before and after the job is done.
Nicky takes pride in doing his job and he's learning  how to do a job on his own. It's good. 
It’s taken so long to get here but now I understand. His quality of life will be determined by his ability to live in the real world. His ability to live in the real world will be determined by his level of self-reliance,  and independence.  My job is to help him be as independent as possible. Thank goodness everyone on his team knew not to listen to me as they continued to incorporate skills for independence in all of his programs!  Because today, I would be a very happy mom knowing that my son could get around town, have his own apartment and hold down any job, that he enjoyed doing! Yes that includes being a janitor.

PS: Unless of course his perfect job comes along. The job description would read: We are seeking an applicant who is kind, loves puzzles, water and video’s is an expert in the ABC’s, memorized names of most animals in the world and loves to swing. 

1 comment:

  1. You are hilarious! I love that job description! Joe's would be: Looking for a sweet, kind, loveable little man who loves animals, Star Wars, Pokemon, great food and Suite Life on Deck. Love you - Jackie