I work for a company that provides homes and working programs for adults with various intellectual and physical disabilities and have been for almost 4 years. I started when I was going to school in Logan as just a direct care staff member. I would go into various homes and basically just help each individual accomplish basic and diverse daily living skills. Majority of the individuals who I worked with were fairly independent in these regular tasks and needed minimal support, but there were a few who needed almost total assistance. I was a direct care staff member for about 2 years and then when I was working in Ogden I was placed in the Day program, after that I was bumped up to an administrative position.
Now I work in Salt Lake City, still on an administrative level. Because I am on the administrative level and a supervise a few programs, I am unable to spend a lot of positive time with any of my clients. Most of the contact I have is usually regarding some form of a behavioral incident or a conflict. Even though this is the case, there are still a few days that I get to spend out in the community with my clients and not stuck behind my desk.
Yesterday was one of those fun days. Every summer we take our entire group to Lagoon. There are a number of staff members who don't really enjoy this day, usually because they end up getting stuck on bathroom duty (I always avoid that job like the plague). This year I spend the day with a girl names Sherry. Sherry is 22 years old and was recently released to our work program from high school. I love spending time with Sherry because she has an amazing imagination. On the first day I met her, she declared to me, "I need to learn how to work with animals because I want to get a pet and my mom won't let me get a pet until I am responsible enough."
"What kind of pet do you want to have?"
Anyway, yesterday I was first, so impressed with Sherry because she had no fear. She went on every single ride without any hesitations. There are many rides that I automatically assumed she would be too afraid to go on, but she would have preferred to go on every ride at least 10 times each if we had the time. I on the other hand, would not go on certain rides because I was too scared. The second thing that I loved about being with Sherry yesterday was how happy she was the entire time that we were there. She was just so excited and we couldn't get to each ride fast enough. On the rides, while the rest of us were screaming, she was laughing with pure joy. Because she was so excited, while the rest of us were standing in line chatting about who knows what, she was roll playing how she would go home that afternoon to tell her mom about her day. She considered all the questions her mom might ask her and how she would answer them. If she noticed that we were looking at her or listening, she would simply tell us, "oh I'm not talking to you, I'm talking to myself about what I will tell my mom when I get home..." and then she would continue on. Often, I will go into the work program during the day and catch her talking to herself. She says that she does it to keep herself from getting bored.
It's days like yesterday that really remind me why I love my job. It's nice when I get to take the opportunity to spend one on one time with the individuals that I serve. Sometimes it can be hard and a little unpleasant, but most of the time it's an opportunity for me to take a step into a world where things are not as complex and people appreciate the more simple things in life.