Gin Rummy: Our daughter’s first day of volunteer work at Ridgefield Crossings was a bust. The senior lady with the cat was out at a dentist appointment when our daughter and her staff escort arrived. So instead of being a “companion” she was asked to play cards with other residents. Gin Rummy. Did anyone read her file, the scores of reports from her school, the vocational data meticulously documented by her teachers and placed in neat folders which I copied and passed along to Ability Beyond Disability and then reminded them to share and share and share? Gin Rummy. What transpired?
Set-Up For Failure: When our daughter checked in with me early afternoon yesterday to tell me she borrowed the series “The Pacific” from the Ridgefield Library and two holocaust movies, including Sophie’s Choice (“It was hard to follow the story”) I inquired into how her new job at Ridgefield Crossings went. She told me the tale of the absentee senior. I shifted quickly to cover my disappointment and frustration, asking if she were excited about ROAR the next day. Big pause. Big pause that signals trouble. Uh oh. “Is there a problem?” Her answer “I am having trouble with focusing.” O.K. “That’s O.K. That is a part of your disability. You are working on that.” Then she mentions the card game, “I was having trouble with the card game.” Card game? I figured that when she came back to her apartment, they played cards. Funny, our daughter doesn’t really know how to play cards, maybe Gold Fish. Games, numbers, money, are areas of significant deficit for her, in fact her most profound deficit. I could hear that she was discouraged. Shortly after we spoke, when I called the vocational coordinator, did clarity set in. Our daughter had been asked to play gin rummy at the senior residence, with her staff attempting to teach her the game on the spot and of course she wasn’t focused. That is like teaching me to speak Chinese over hot and sour soup at the local take-out. Naturally, she felt like she failed. Great. And she was taking that feeling to her next new volunteer job today, the long awaited animal shelter ROAR, where one assumes those residents, the cats and dogs, will not be out at dentist appointments. Jeezus Beezus!
Prevention: That was the word I uttered over and over with both the vocational coordinator and later the residential coordinator. Prevention. How about Preparation and Prevention? PP. These volunteer settings have to know who our daughter is in advance so they don’t set her up for failure. And the ABD staff on site should provide the essential data to enlighten them. The only job so far that has worked out is the one I arranged two years ago at The Complete Cat Clinic. Is this a joke? If it is, why aren’t I laughing? Poor kid. This just isn’t fair.
The Curse of 11-11-11? Frankly I am not going to cross my fingers on today’s ROAR event. I’ve lost my optimism and am not inviting any more disappointment for her or for me for the moment. Can it be the curse of 11-11-11 that is sucking the optimism out of my veins? The honeymoon is over and adult independent living has hit some mighty big pot holes.
©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011