Literacy Narrative Second Draft

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Smith 5

Alyssa SmithMs. DearingEnglish 10627 January 2015Living and Learning at Wabash CenterFor the past few years I have been working with disabled adults, and with the help of my clients, my managers, and my instructors, I have gained a deeper understanding of the rights and daily lives of those living with disabilities. Along the way I have gained more knowledge from my sponsors, both direct and indirect. Some of my sponsors include my teachers at the center, who helped me to become a certified Direct Support Professional, and my managers of the houses, as well as the clients themselves. My teachers taught me directly the information and skills I need to know in order to be successful in the house and were paid directly by the state. My managers over my specific houses taught me more individual skills that help me work best with each client separately. Friends and families of the disabled have helped teach me over time by sharing specific memories and experiences. My clients have taught me the most because I gain firsthand experience. They teach me how to better assist them and tell me about their lives and how having a disability has affected them.I began my journey in literacy of disabled adults a few years ago. I heard about Wabash Center through a missed call to a wrong number. A manager from Wabash Center called my phone trying to get a hold of someone who had mistakenly written my number down. Instead of just hanging up when I informed her she had a wrong number, she asked if I had a minute to talk about the company. She told me about Wabash Center and its goals, and it seemed so much better than the waitressing jobs I was used too, plus I would truly be making a difference in tens or even hundreds of peoples lives. I applied for a job at Wabash Center in Lafayette, and began working in the summer. At first I worked at many different houses with many different clients. I had to read a binder for each and every individual describing their daily routines, what medicines they take, what their behavior plans are, and how I should handle myself in their home. I quickly learned that there is a very broad spectrum of abilities in the disabled community. This spectrum ranges from low to high functioning. Our main goal with the company is to teach each individual things specific to their goals, this varies from showering themselves or learning how to cook on their own. The overall goal is to improve their standard of living and hopefully get them to a point in their lives where they can live unassisted.After being in the houses with my clients for around two months, I loved it so much I applied full time and quit my waitressing job. I was excited to go to work and help my clients, and I was eager to learn every single day. It was the first job I ever had that I felt like I would still be happy to do for free, and I genuinely looked forward to coming in each day. Now Wabash Center and my clients are just as much a part of my daily life as my family.I was required to take classes through the state to directly further my knowledge. I am now fully certified in CPR and state med passing. I am also trained in CPI which is similar to self-defense. The clients have behaviors which also covers a broad field. Behaviors can range from yelling, to self-injury, to attempting to kill their caretakers, so I have to be prepared for anything. Since Wabash Center is a non-restraint company, we do not ever harm the clients in any way, even if we are in danger. We must learn to stay as safe as possible in the situation and keep others around us safe also. I am also trained in first aid, which comes in handy almost every day. There are lots of other mandatory training classes that we take in order to best assist our clients in a safe and legal way. Working with disabled adults has also taught me a lot about how others react to those with disabilities and their tolerance for these adults. Some of my clients have been abused for being disabled. This ranges from physical and verbal abuse from their families, or being put up for adoption for being different. A lot of the clients have been in state hospitals. I have heard all kinds of horrible stories about the way they have been mistreated there. I work with many clients who have been raped, beaten, verbally torn down, and taken advantage of. Now these clients are wary to trust staff or other adults in their life because they are worried they will be harmed or exploited. I was not aware of any of the things my clients had to live through just because they had a disability, and that it was easier to take advantage and harm them instead of helping them to live the best life they are capable of.The first day my eyes were truly opened to the world of those living with disabilities was not my first day on the job. I had worked in many different houses with many different clients. Eventually I began working full time in a home where three higher functioning adults live. I had worked with them and read their books many days in a row, and thought I had a firm grasp on the situation. I sat down to dinner with one of my clients and he asked me if he could talk to me. I responded with yes, of course. I am always interested in the stories my clients tell because a lot of the time it gives me clues as to why they behave the way they do and how I can better work with them on achieving their goals. My client went on to tell me that he was born in 1955 to his mother, but he did not think of her as his mom. She said he was retarded and did not want him. He stayed with his sister and she raised him as her own and he referred to her as Mommy. After a while his sister got a boyfriend and he did not like my client because my client was disabled. Later on, the boyfriend tried to shoot him. He ran away and had to sleep outside for many days because he was afraid to go home. When he did return home he was sent to prison due to his violent past. After a few years he was moved to a state hospital where he was abused by male nurses and forced to go through electric shock therapy without sedatives or pain relievers. He was beaten, got his things stolen, made fun of, and had all his rights stripped away. After many years, the hospital closed down and he was sent to live at Wabash Center, and he has been happily living here for 20 years. By learning all of this I was able to get a better understanding on how I can help him without offending him or bringing back painful memories. It also gave me a better understanding as to why he reacts the way he does if he feels threatened or talked down to. I believe that by gaining literacy in the field of adults with disabilities it has opened my eyes to many things in the world. I pay close attention to the way I am treated compared to others, because everyone deserves fair and equal tolerance, including those with disabilities. I am also much more aware of my vocabulary and the vocabulary of those around me. The more obvious words that are offensive are retarded, or dumb/stupid which I believe everyone knows are wrong. But I am also aware that by referring to people without disabilities as normal can also be extremely hurtful which I dont think the average person thinks about. I have noticed that in general, if a client thinks its ok for someone to say retarded then they refer to themselves in that way and if they make a mistake or feel that they are not doing something at the same levels and standards as someone without a disability then they will refer to themselves as retards and lose hope and self-confidence, which is extremely sad. By choosing to work at Wabash Center I have chosen to further my literacy and pursued further knowledge. As mentioned earlier with the client who suffered years of abuse, he pursued me to further my knowledge of his specific situation and how to help him. I make a conscious decision every day to pursue knowledge in this area so I can be the best I can be both for my job and in my clients lives. I am not sure if I will continue this line of work after Purdue. My major is Biology Education and although I do want to dedicate my life to teaching, I also have a love of science that I feel I need to have in my life that Wabash Center cannot provide me with. Another extremely difficult part of the job is that clients pass away. People with disabilities have a lower life expectancy because many of them have multiple health problems outside of their disability. It is extremely hard to get so attach to a client and look at them as part of your family and then have to deal with their death and just be expected to move on and wait for them to be replaced by another client in their home. I have learned that there is no set way to handle all adults with disabilities. Every single person is different and has different needs and goals. I have to learn about every individual personally in order to best help them in their journey. They continue to sponsor me every day by teaching me and opening my eyes to new ways to help them and overcome their obstacles in life. I do not believe that I can ever learn everything there is to know about these adults and the best way to help them, only that I can continue to deepen my literacy for adults with disabilities every single day.