For due diligence I visited all the sites given to us to check out for possible new service venues for our son. After the first one, my daughter asked, “How did it go?” My reply was simple as my voice cracked, “Let’s talk about it later.
I cried hard for a few minutes after that brief phone conversation—alone in my car. It felt good until I realized I had four more visits to go. I gathered my composure for visit #2. And yes, all five yielded the same painful results. I won’t take away that each had something to offer a certain population of those with special needs, but there were some things I just couldn’t shake:
I was seeing in others what others likely see in our son. That was hard for me. When you live day in and day out with one with special needs, it becomes so normal and fitting to your life and family, that you don’t think much of it, until you see another that resembles your child (or sibling or parent) in another setting for which they just might legitimately “qualify”! For me, it was a little shocking, even though I/we daily care for our adult son and know he has special (and many) needs.
There were some places that lacked cleanliness and I couldn’t consider my son being there all day.I can’t tell others how to run their places, but when soiled carpeting looks twenty years old and never cleaned, I can’t consider my child being there. What else lacks attention? What else is neglected? Linoleum could be a more cleanable yet durable surface and yet soft enough for falling, dropping things, a moving around in a wheelchair and not overly expensive. And yes, there were other things that drew my attention but I won’t list them.
Observing some things took me by surprise.I am used to melt downs and other behavior from the special needs population because we know they are different and process things differently, and it’s a part of our life. But we also try to maintain in all situations both dignity and value of life. When I observed several adults sleeping on a floor (no mat, no pillow) on dirty carpeting I couldn’t help but wonder: WHY? Were there no alternatives? Why were they sleeping? And most of all, expecting me to be given a tour…..and that is still OK?
Lesson plans are more than “watch a movie or computer time.” A lesson plan should contain the outcomes of that activity as well as how it will be implemented. Some seemed to do this better than others, but I was a teacher and I know a good lesson plan.
I’m not impressed, and not even a little enticed to put my adult child there. I have other options, thankfully. And one of those options is home during the day.
We don’t know what the future will hold for our son, but we do know that some decisions are hard to make. We know we can’t approve of everything out there but we also know some things are very not acceptable. It was a rough five visits for me. I was grateful for the learning experience, thankful that there are venues that others can attend when home isn’t an option for the day (or for life); but I/we also realized that we have the option of home care (by us) for our son if it should ever come to that in the work force of special needs. We will explore our options, our expectations, and our part in this process.
Were my tears for my son, the people being served (or not) in these venues, or were they about me? Yes. And we know yours are likely, as well. Our prayer for each of us on this unexpected journey is to find the best path of dignity and worth for our child (or parent); even if through hard cries and tears.
Dr. Joe and Cindi Ferrini are authors, speakers, and bloggers for several blogging sites on family and special needs. They speak nationally for FamilyLife Weekend To Remember Marriage Get-a-Ways, authored Unexpected Journey – When Special Needs Change our Course, and have been interviewed on Focus on the Family, FamilyLife, and various other radio and television venues. Connect with them at www.cindiferrini.comand social media at: www.facebook.com/cindi.ferrini, www.facebook.com/UnexpectedJourney/, www.facebook.com/MyMarriageMatters/