Thursday, July 18, 2013

Reality Sucks

Joey was excited about his move to Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC).  Graduating from high school in six months, this transition offered Joey an opportunity to leave the nest and stretch his wings in the sweetness of independence.  Independence to Joey meant staying in bed all day, getting up whenever he wanted to, doing whatever he wanted to, going wherever he wanted to go.  Joey’s ideal day was watching movies, playing video games, and simply hanging out.  After moving into WFC’s Centre Pointe Cottage in November 2009, Joey’s idea of independence – carefree, “have fun and goof off” all the time – experienced a head-on collision with WFC’s idea of independence.  Within the first few weeks, Joey wants to go home. 

Everyone experiences an adjustment upon settling into life at WFC, a new environment, new routines, and a new way of living.  Many individuals coming from homes where a parent or a family member has been their primary caretaker tend to experience the greatest adjustment.   The most common reason: caretakers in their genuine interest to provide the best care possible sometimes enable their loved ones by doing everything for them.  Sometimes, it is out of unnecessary guilt, or because it is easier when juggling other responsibilities in their life.  Well-meaning, genuinely caring, but not always empowering.  Joey’s mom took great care of him, giving him whatever he wanted.  She was overwhelmed with juggling a new marriage, a new baby, and a growing teenaged son with cerebral palsy.
We all are responsible for our lives, and as adults, we have daily tasks we need to do, such as getting up for the day, making our bed, getting dressed, personal hygiene activities, meals, etc.  Wendell Foster’s Campus teaches and empowers the people we serve, to be actively involved, responsible and participating in life as much as one can despite cerebral palsy.   Our staff creates care plans that support this mission, the individual’s quality of life, pursuit of interests, and engagement within our Owensboro community.  Everyone actively participates as much as possible in his or her personal care, cottage and room chores, and recreational activities.  We provide support of physical, speech, and everyday living skills through therapies and assistive technology.  When staff placed these expectations on Joey, a struggle for independence ensued.

Joey’s idea of independence didn’t include getting up every morning, helping make his bed, or picking up his room, and being involved in recreational activities.  Joey’s idea of independence conflicted with that of WFC’s, and he did not like not getting his own way.  Just as any normal teenager would, Joey made his feelings known with both the staff and his mom.  You and I grumbled when our parents asked us to clean our room.  I once threatened to run away from home at such injustice! Joey wanted to run away from WFC and go home to his mom.

Unfortunately, going home was no longer an option for Joey.  His family had already moved on with their life.  All the equipment they used for Joey’s at-home care had been removed.  Mom was still chasing after a toddler who occupied a great deal of her time.  Finally, mom knew that WFC was the best place for Joey. In time, Joey adjusted to Campus life, though not always happy with it.  He still yearned to be a “grown up,” but being the oldest living in a cottage that serves a younger population did not help.  Both Joey and WFC staff recognized it, and worked together to figure out another living situation for Joey so he could be living with adults. 
In the Next Blog Entry:  I'm Moving on Up! - "Stoked, Joey was willing to do whatever it took to make his dream of living in a real 'grown-up' house happen."

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