I work with the disabled. The good, the bad, the ugly.

So I was talking to someone about my job the other day and I realized that I have a way more interesting job than I thought.    I work with "developmentally disabled" individuals.  Usually identified as MR, mentally retarded, etc.  However, the disability varies and is not always MR.

Depending on the level of their disability, I do different things to work with them.  Ive done everything from change a diaper on a 25 year old man, to fight a solid 300 plus lb man.  Not really fight, more like bob and weave and run like hell. 

I'll start with the first clients I worked with.  He was the 25 year old that I mentioned earlier.  He has autism and his disabilty was nurtured by his mother doing everything for him.  EVERYTHING.  I am severaly disappointed in the diagnosis.  I found that he was much smarter than anyone, including his previous workers, had given him credit for.  His mother even said that I am the first person that actually worked with him to try to help him.  He was nonverbal, for the most part.  He could say a select few phrases.  He also used pigeon sign language and pictures to communicate.  People described him as an individual with no hope.  No capability for learning (Which is NEVER true).  I came in afraid of what I was going to find.  Truth is, he was a bit of a mess.  He was watching a movie, but kept rewinding in each time the previews finished.  I felt really overwhelmed, but went with it,  I needed a job.  So I started to watch him, and attempt to talk to him, to try to figure something out about him.  All I was able to learn about was that he liked radios and cars.  And I didnt learn that til I had worked with him for about a week.  I also spent alot of time learning to communicate with him.  Then, I decided to take him out of his home and go for a ride to the park.  See if I could get anything out of him.  The second he got in the car, he turned every knob. I started to think this was a bad idea, but it gave me a goal and a challenge.  Exactly what I needed.  Start small.  After a couple weeks, he learned turn taking with the radio.  I gradually began to realize that there was more to him than ANYONE had noticed.  The point when I realized this was when we were driving around the park one day with our windows down and he yelled "WOOOOOH" at a woman jogging around the park.  My first instinct was a high five.  For two reasons: 1. he expressed himself.  Always encouraged.  2.  He got more attention from a cat call than Ive ever seen in my life.  Good attention too.  Not just the finger.  Another occasion where he expressed himself in a vivid way was to make fun of me.  (this should give u a good idea of how he communicated)   I had gone rock climbing and had slipped and hurt my knee, the previous weekend.  So that next monday, I took him to speech thereapy.  He opened a magazine to an ad with rocks.  Pointed at the rock, pointed at me, said "Uh Oh" then laughs hysterically.

Progress went well for a while, then I had a certain problem come in.  In the form of a step father.  The guys learning just plummeted.  he was doing so well and when the step father came in, learning just stopped. At first, I thought it was depression from another man competing for mother's attention.  Then I started finding bruises.  I reported each one.  I had the Adult Protective Services on speed dial.  And the case workers personal cell phone.  I had to call about once a week.  They drug their fucking feet on it.  I even witnessed what happened one day.  We had just come home from the park, and I started logging the days activities in the book.  His stepfather came in and pushed the guy into a chair.  Each time Guy tried to get up, he got pushed back down by his stepfather.  Then his stepfather slapped him across the face.  I did not approve.  So I told him to take it easy.  His stepfather, whom Im now going to call Ass, said something along the lines of hes the father and Im not.  It continued to get worse.  He kept pushing him and slapping him.  I did not shut up.  Eventually Guy ran over beside me hoping I would help him.  Ass comes over grabs him by the hair, and pulled him back to the chair and once again threw him in it.  Every bone in my body said to just knock this mother fucker out (I used to box, I can size a guy up farely well, he'd have gone down quick).  But one thought stayed in my head.  If I hit this guy, I cant come back tomorrow.  I may stop it today, but who will do anything tomorrow.  Its obvious that the mother is allowing it to happen.  Hell, it could be happening to her too.   I told them that I had to leave early.  I quickly got into my truck.  I was shaking so bad I couldnt even put my keys into the ignition.  Eventually I got it and drove off.  I immediately called emergency services and APS and DHS and my bosses.  My bosses and I constantly fought to get something done.  It took 5 months from when everything started. for them to finally remove Guy from the house.

Thats something I wish I hadnt seen, but for Guy's sake, Im glad I did.  I had gotten in Ass's face several time over the 5 month period.  Told him to shut the hell up, etc.  But I still just want to hit him.  I question whether I did the right thing by not hitting him.  I mean, yeah, I know I did the right thing in the long run.  But I dont know what else happened to the poor guy after I left.


I intend on writing more about my job.  The others arent so dark.  This was how I got introduced into it.  And so I figure this is a good place to start.


Uploaded 09/06/2008
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Tags: family