Sunday, January 3, 2010
Step 7 & 8 of the Path Process
Step 7-Planning the Next Month's Work. An overwhelming theme came through Sam's Path Process...think about small steps that move Sam toward his goals and dreams. It's funny because that seems to be an underlying theme with Sam in general , he is not known to make huge jumps in his progress or development...slow and steady has been our motto.
In this step we looked at what we will have to do, who and how. We will check into church groups, come up with small chores around the home and shop, check on volunteer opportunities at St. Johns, Sam's church and hopefully locate some social outlets within the community. We were getting tired and I felt the need to really sit down and review his dreams and goals to determine what these small steps would and should look like. This step will require further thought and a lot more definition but it was a start.
Step 8-Committing to the First Step. This step requires you to commit to doing something and exactly what that something will be. As a known procrastinator it does not surprise me that this step is not well defined. For those who know me, I can get a lot done but I tend to fly by the seat of my pants and deadlines are necessary to elicit action. So what I should have committed to is a timeline for each step defined. We talked about getting a YMCA pass for the family with family support funding, having Sam go on a sledding trip arranged by his sister and cousin, Ben taking him snowmobiling to introduce a new sport to him, working with the school to arrange short visits and putting together his medical and diet list. Over the next week this step will be revamped and dates, people and actions will be well defined.
Sooooo, what have I learned from the process??? We have a lot of work ahead of us and as we have done all along we will take small steps toward reaching the goals. I recently explained Path to a friend this way. I guess what drew me to PATH was the idea of building community around an individual with special needs. I had done community building in order to build Possibility Playground, an extension of that just made sense to me. Unlike my other children I don’t really anticipate that things are just going to happen with Sam. My experience with Sam has been that he can do things other kids do but he has to be taught, shown or presented with the situation. He doesn’t easily pick up on things on his own. I think partially because of his hearing issue, his speech issue and the Boldt/Mayer characteristics of working only on those things that really interest you. I think Sam would be a kid that would easily get lost within the school system because he can play his Down syndrome/brain injury card very well and if you are going to think or accept that he can’t do something he’s more than happy to live up to that. But with a little push, a change in how things are presented, Sam has continued to amaze me with what he can do and what he does understand. For me the biggest challenge is not if Sam can learn it but how I need to teach it to him. The Path process allows me to bring other people into the process, sometimes it takes another person or another set of eyes to figure out how to best work with Sam, it is one of the reasons why I love having Sam in NACD. Along the way I’m sure we will find those people who do not work well with Sam and those that get it and see the ability that needs to be brought out. As we find those people, we add them to the circle of people who continue to interact with Sam. I guess having a second child with a learning disability I have had the opportunity to see Ben’s path and can now think about Sam’s with a little insight. Although the diagnosis is different the underlying theme is the same. I’ve spent years helping Ben understand Dyslexia and his learning disabilities with Reading, Writing and Spelling but always reassuring him that these are challenges but they do not define his potential and together we have developed a system that works for him. He is in the general curriculum, he knows what to ask his teachers for, how he needs to take tests and what adaptive technologies he uses to complete his assignments. Along the way we have had challenging times and we have added people who work well with Ben to his circle of support. As I always say, “this isn’t the program I signed up for” but all 3 of my children have taught me so much on the very different ways they learn and they are so worth the time and effort invested. I know with Sam, I need to recruit more people to form his circles of support and the Path process seems to be a great way to get this started. I have come to the realization that I don’t think there is enough of me to really work on all the different areas of Sam’s development. I think Sam will greatly benefit from working with other people, in different situations and learning how to make that work. With both of my boys it’s scary, putting them out there in the world and wondering how people will treat and work with them. We have had situations with a teacher, a peer that have severely affected self esteem and feelings of worth which are by far the hardest to work through but strength is often gained through adversity and Ben has learned to build a shell, a shell that deflects the negative and is reinforced with daily encouragement from the people within his circles. Hopefully, through Sam's path he will do the same.