i support 3 special needs adult clients in a group home environment. My clients are special needs adults and it is my responsibility to see that they get a good dinner, get their meds, stay relatively safe, and take care of their personal hygiene requirements. There is one other responsibility that is both the most challenging, and the most rewarding. That aspect is called Community Integration.
I worked at a state institution in the early 80's where these folks were warehoused - the client to staff ratio was 10 to 1. My current clients are living in a quantum leap of normalcy. But the Community Integration presents quite a challenge. It's a double-edged sword. We are attempting to acclimate our clients to normal activities in the community, but also acclimate the people in the community to our clients.
I take my clients grocery shopping every week. I am very happy to report that many of the store staff have not only become familiar with our party, they take the time to say hi, and some even go out of their way to give hugs. I have also had customers tell me that they look forward to seeing us in the store.
My clients are very friendly, and pose no harm intentionally, but they don't fully understand that the elderly are at risk for hip fracture if they fall, or that children might not understand a request for a simple handshake.
My clients love children, but I believe that they see children more as peers. Unfortunately, they don't understand that their innocent attempts at making friends might be seen as scary by children. Much less some protective parents. I cannot fault the protective parents.
But the good news is that both my clients and the public are becoming more comfortable with each other. I am happy to say that we are making great progress.
My clients could possibly be your child. Count your blessings, and show some love to those who have been given special challenges.
Submitted by Boris Badinov
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