Written by: Holly Peterson
This has been a very big year for the Peterson Family. My daughter Sally graduated from Lyle Torrant Center at age 26. Many parents like myself feel that “the bottom falls out” of our adult child’s and our lives. All of the hours of time that were filled by school need to be filled with activity! That doesn't mean the activity of sitting in front of a television or a video game ..to us, it means QUALITY and MEANINGFUL activity!
My husband Jeff and I look at each other and ask…”What will it look like...where will she go, who will do it with her”? We are both heavily involved in local issues for individuals with disabilities so we have made it our jobs to be informed...and for me, well it actually IS my job (to be informed)! I work for disAbility Connections and contract to the Intermediate School District as the Resource Coordinator.
Because we both work, we have limited “staff hours” and need to make the most of them. We don't have the time to invent things...so we need to rely on what is currently happening in our community and plug into those things. We take Sally’s interests, her strengths, physical abilities and needs into account, then add the important things to our family, like faith, volunteering and giving back to the community. Our family motto is…”If it is to be (it might be) up to me!”
I have gathered a list of community activities over the years that I share with other families and today I am using it like my menu. I am checking off the things we will participate in and add others (that’s the “up to me” part). I will set it up like a weekly calendar. It doesn't have to be stuck like glue, but if it is on paper it is more important to us, to Sally and to helpers in making sure we attempt to meet the goals we feel are important to the Meaningful life we hope to foster.
AM—David’s Promise at First Church of the Nazarene
Home for lunch
Laundry Day (Sally assist with sorting and folding -hand over hand)
Light clean and pick up in her bedroom, bathroom and family room.
Bike Ride or walk.
Dinner and Relax with TV
Water /Shaving Cream Play / or bake something (to take to friends at library and our favorite waitress’)
Relax and Lunch at home
Library visit (volunteer and clean book jackets in children’s department—take your own Clorox wipes– hand over hand assistance needed)
Return and pick new - library books / Alternate weeks with ACTION CLUB
Taco Tuesday Dinner at Bone Island
AM– David’s Promise
Out to Lunch with a friend from David's Promise at Alpha Coney
Go to the mall with an agenda...that could be smell lots of things like candles, lotions etc or find all things furry and touch them!
Check checking account balances, gas in car and car service needs.
Home to relax—fingernail and toenail polish touchup!
Therapy (walk, bike ride or music etc)
Grocery store, home and put away
Pick up lunch to take home or eat out
Clean Bath, bedroom and family room (hand over hand assist)
YMCA to Swim (shower)
Bake and package (something to take to your friends!)
Meet Friends for Dinner or 2 for 1 appetizers at Applebee’s
Attend a sporting event BB at High School or Soccer at SAU or 1 time a month go to Civitan Dance
Plan to do something in town, a concert, play, festival etc.
Go to park to swing, walk and have ice cream
Hang at home watch TV movie.
Lunch out or at church
Hang with Family!
It is so important for us to have the “regular places” that we visit.
We can strengthen our circle of friends. EX: Sally goes to the library every Tuesday and sees her friends Mary and June who work there. She cleans book jackets to volunteer. Mary and June talk to her, ask about her week and become her friends. Sally goes to Taco Tuesday at Bone Island Grill - as do lots of other people - who after time, are stopping by to say hello to her. Her favorite waitress expects to see them. She tells her family about Sally, soon people are stopping her at the mall and store to say “hi” to her.
We have met new friends at sporting events or festivals that have eventually become a part of our caregiver team. Especially students– they see Sally out and want to be a part of doing that with her. One time we went to a graduation event at Spring Arbor University and no fewer than 12 kids came to see her and talk to her… I only knew 2 of them—they all knew Sally!
Her community is broadening daily, and we are building a “new bottom (foundation)” to the one we thought would “fall out”!