Simple minds

Ever walked through a mall super fast with places to be, one thing to buy and people to see? Then, someone who knows you, stops you and starts to talking to you. All you can think about is the mixing bowls that you saw on sale last week and still hope they are. You also have to meet a friend, who you already late to meet, but I have to get those mixing bowls, maybe meeting your friend can be your out. You eventually tell them that you have to meet a client.  That’s more official, its work and you can’t be late for work!

Now, lets switch this scenario around. You are walking through a mall, slowly this time, looking around, taking things in, people watching.  No one comes up to you this time, you are in deep thought.  There is more thought about whether you NEED the mixing bowls, what people around you are rushing to and what you are doing in the mall.  You are relaxed and enjoying your day, you even smile at strangers.

Sometimes, when I push a client through the mall, I can go really fast as I try to get from here to there. I can only imagine the person I’m pushing feeling as discombobulated as in my first mall scenario, being stopped, forced to interact.

People always say my clients understand things slower, don’t always get it at first, or may have missed something when explaining a concept.

In the back of my mind, I see my clients have wonderful personality traits that go hand in hand with slower thinkers. They appreciate things more, they think longer about it, so are smarter about it, they have a love of words and language, so please say it twice and, their thought pattern is so sophisticated.  Think about it, doesn’t it fit?

Try to think about a problem that you see, and then try to figure it out and fix it.  The catch, you can’t say it out loud, you can only say it in your head.  Even when you get the answer,  you can’t say it out loud, you can tell someone in a different way, except writing it out.  You can use a computer, blinking yes or no, a secret code or just keep it to yourself.  Oh, you should time yourself too.  Now, how long did it tell you?  Did you want to give up?  Were your insides burning as you tried to convey what you had figured out?  Imagine doing that everyday, for everything you want to say?  Hard huh!?!  That’s why I say my clients are smarter, if they can convey what they want to say and if I can figure it out, they have succeeded.  I have too, I am a bit smarter than when I started. They have to work with my simplistic mind to get me thinking a certain way and understand a sophisticated thinking pattern, theirs.

I used the mall scenario, because sometimes on occasion, I’ll take a client to a mall.  When we get home, their parents will say, “what did you do at the mall?”

“We were in the Nic Nac store, you know the one with a bunch of things you don’t need.  For 45 mins!”

A client can sometimes spend longer staring and looking at something than I can because they are thinking about it in a different way.  They may look at something twice, or take longer to make a final decision as it really has to important in their world to get it.  Now, if that doesn’t make sense all the time, I don’t know what does.

Next time you are shopping, before you buy something, muddle through many questions in your mind before you buy, maybe you’ll save money.  If there is a problem that you can’t figure out, don’t give up and think about it in a bunch or different ways until you get it, you will feel smarter.

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Who has the power?

When I went to college to do my Developmental Services Worker (DSW), we were lectured over and over about stealing our clients power.  That mean’s taking away the small decision-making they have depending on their disability.  Here are some examples: Someone who is be verbal but fully dependant may say that they want to make a phone call to a friend, and they need you to hold the phone.  You as the support worker say, “sorry, I’m busy and you don’t really need to call them anyway.” OR, someone is talking to my client and I answer for them or interrupt. OR my favorite, talking about someone as if they’re not there. This is really bad if it’s a doctor’s appointment regarding further testing. People need to be informed about what’s happening with them. Sorry got sidetracked.

Every time my professors talked about staff stealing their clients power, I tuned out.  I had already been doing this job for eighteen years and knew who I was, that I was good at my job and I didn’t need anyone to tell me how to do it. I always thought, “I don’t do that, what an awful person to do that.  They should quit their job if they don’t like it.”  Who did I think I was, maybe I DO.

The truth is as support staff, we all do it, some worse than others. I was very careful after that to see if I did do steal my client’s power and catch myself if I did.

Giving people with a special need a power, may seem silly to some people, or not make any sense. Why would you ask someone what they want to wear, how they like their tea, if they want to go to the movie or inquire about them at all? I believe the reason is because, there is something in all of us and it only turns on when we connect with other human beings. This is why we all want friends, partners, lovers, children and family.  psychologist’s have time and time again studied human interaction, human touch and what it does for us to do for someone else.  It makes us feel good, gives us purpose, gives us different views on the world and in some cases brings us closer to a higher power.  I am sure it does good for our insides too that we don’t pay attention to, smiling muscles, heart, skin nerves and so on.  These are all good things, and we want good things in our crazy world, or we go crazy and take others down with us.

So, the question still is, do I take power from my clients?  The answer is no, at least I don’t think so.  I am almost overly the other way around.  Which sometimes results in me having a one-sided conversation all day, with my client answering yes or no in whatever way they can, but, it is a sacrifice I am willing to make.  I (sometimes annoyingly) train my staff in a very meticulous way so as to respect the wishes of my client down to a tee.

I can’t imagine if I needed help with everything and someone just took over my care without inquiring about me, didn’t talk to me and maybe forced me to desist any kind of protest.  I think that is why I do things the way I do.  I completely appreciate my ability to walk, talk, swallow and take care of myself.  Yes, parents, staff and friends think I’m crazy but, they eventually realize that there is a method to my madness and my passion drives from deep within.

So yes, I am still going to name every colour shirt to the blind person so they can pick the one they want to wear and let someone order their food at the restaurant and stall a person until my client answers for themselves.  I have two quote’s I want to pass on…

Make a child’s (person’s) day everyday, your will have the best day thereafter. 

Fit someone else into your day everyday, you will feel better because you did! 

I know, their kinda the same, but the same is good sometimes.

DSW