Friday, January 25, 2013

Failing Brad

After Brad’s Big Riding Adventure with the Owensboro Bicycle Club and completely wearing out two staff members, the Cottage staff at Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) recognized Brad’s love for riding, the sense of fulfillment it offers him, as well as the better night’s sleep on the days he rides.  They decided to explore another physical activity to add to Brad’s routine. 

Once upon a time, Brad enjoyed swimming in physical therapy (PT).  While WFC has a hydrotherapy pool on-site, Cottage program director Wes Gaynor wanted to get Brad off campus and into the community to participate in this activity.  Brad spent much of his day, and his day-to-day activities, confined mainly on-Campus, which provided Brad with little social interaction outside of his Cottage mates and staff.  With this in mind, Wes applied for a member scholarship on Brad’s behalf at the Owensboro Healthpark.  The scholarship awarded, Brad officially became a member of the Healthpark for one year!  The next step was registering Brad for a swim aerobics class held on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  The plan was in place; Brad would begin attending swim class two times a week, every week and ride the AmTryke outside of regular PT appointments.

What’s that saying about “best laid plans?”  Wes honestly admits that they “failed” Brad for the first few months as staff “got in their own way” in helping Brad participate in his new hobbies.  Attendance at swim classes was sporadic, which left Brad disengaged and uncooperative with the activity, a natural result when routine and consistency is important to someone living with autism.  Transportation became another burr under the saddle when each Cottage has only one van to accommodate sixteen individuals.  If a van was unavailable on the day Brad had swim aerobics, he did not go.
After several months, Cottage staff met to review the situation.  They did not see progress in Brad’s participation in swimming, in which he was becoming less cooperative about getting into the water after missing classes.  They also noticed little improvement in his frustration.  Additionally, he was experiencing severe insomnia.  His endurance and strength riding on the AmTryke showed no advancement, and in fact, some noticed a slight decrease in his physical ability on it.

Each of us is responsible for our daily life:  getting to work on time, getting our meals, getting to medical appointments or job interviews, even our social activities.  Even when we make a commitment to ourselves to participate in a volunteer activity or hobby or a gym membership, the only person responsible when we do not follow through usually is you and me, and our own lack of motivation; however, WFC staff is responsible to and for the individuals we serve.  The staff’s efforts to get Brad engaged in these extra-curricular activities within the community fell through the cracks, and they recognized it.
The question now before them:  “What are we going to do about it?”

In the Next Blog Entry:  New Plan: Adapt. Improvise. Overcome. - "They were letting Brad down and they knew it. . . ."

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