I think one of the toughest challenges in raising a child with disabilities is the surprises.
Just when you think all is well, suddenly you're aware that things are not what you assumed. Rather like Mr. Incredible in his interview at the beginning of The Incredibles (one of my favorite movies!)... "Can't things just stay fixed for a while, I just cleaned this mess up..."
To preface my story, in this case I refer to K3's transition program. Basically, the school system is legally required to offer her services until she turns 21 and then their obligations are over. Between graduation and age 21, programs are called "Transition" and are geared toward helping the student with disabilities make the transition from school to work. K3 was on the way to her transition program when she was hit by the truck last November.
K3's transition program called me Friday and again yesterday. Frankly I could not be more surprised regarding their observations:
Them: K3 has issues moving from task to task in her practice kitchen internship. She needs prompting about what to do next.
Me: Really? She's been like that her whole life. It's part of her disability.
Them: Because she needs prompting in the kitchen and she excels at PowerPoint, we think she might do well at an office job.
Me: I think you're sorely mistaken. Someone who needs prompting in the kitchen will be lost in an office environment where the tasks are even less concrete and obvious.
Them: We are surprised that she doesn't seem to grasp some of the behavioral nuances at the program.
Me: You do know you are working with students with disabilities, right?
I'm astounded, literally, that they've had her in that program for 9 months and they don't understand the basics of working with her;
That she either needs prompting or a list of things that have to be done until she learns them.... then she can operate independently.
That she cannot model behaviors that others do by watching and integrating it into her behaviors. If that were true, she would have never been hit by a truck because she would have learned how to cross the street safely by watching us do it. If you want her to model a behavior, you have to break it down for her so she can learn it. Tell her why. Use examples. Remind her.
That you think she would actually be functional in an office environment doing tasks on a computer that don't interest her. I assure you, when you're not looking, she's distracted by the internet and looking at Ninja stuff, and movie times, and horses.
The only thing they seem to understand about her is how sweet she is.
Their recommendation now is to wait to place her in a restaurant internship because she isn't ready. I think they don't understand that she can learn by doing and that placing her in the restaurant internship now and working with her for a few weeks might be very successful indeed.
Perhaps if I didn't work in the disability field, I would be less outraged. As it is, I foresee an advocacy chat in our very near future. If that doesn't work, I may move her to a different vendor next year, as is my right. I would hate to that because K3 is comfortable there. But given that we only have a year left... time is of the essence. I can't wait for them to take another year to figure K3 out.
Okay... I'm unclenching.