This is Jacob. I cannot talk or put my thoughts down on paper. But, my mom knows me better than anyone so she decided to tell this story from my perspective. I approve of this post.
When I turned 21 I was no longer able to attend public school. (I got to stay longer than most.) I didn’t love school but in high school I had a friend, Mr. F. He was retired military who was on mission to help kids like me. He was the very best thing about those years.
A state Support Coordinator was assigned to me when I aged out of public school. They were the liaison who helped make sure my needs were being met. After high school, my parents enrolled me in a state run program referred to as Day Hab. There were some nice staff members there and I was content attending for many years. At some point my Support Coordinator suggested we visit another program. If I understand it right, they are required to let you know your options, or I think that is what Mom said. We weren’t unhappy where I was but my parents thought it’d be a good idea to at least explore what else was available.
We went to a Christmas Open House to look around. It was a non-profit that had added a day program that fall. As soon as we walked in, a man said, “Hey Jacob!! Glad to see you buddy!” It was a guy that had previously worked at the Day Hab center so it made me feel good that somebody knew my name. Plus another fella, about like me, walked up and took my hand. They both made me feel accepted. It was a pleasant atmosphere with music playing, which I really liked. And a large building with lots of rooms to explore, including a kitchen. My parents made the decision to move me to the new program, Day Services. I’m pretty sure they were way more nervous than me about how I’d transition.
My new adventure started in February 2013, which is where the title of this blog post comes into play. The program had adult clients of all ages and abilities. They offered various activities and some community vocational training for those capable. Early on, the Day Services manager commented to my mom that I wasn’t interested in participating in some of the in-house work opportunities that others were enjoying. They did things like shredding documents, sorting, stuffing envelopes, etc. It was nice that many of my peers were good at those things but it didn’t interest me. I’ve heard of work ethic but don’t think I have (or even want) one.
However, the manager of the program had a really cool office with a COUCH!!! It had other stuff, too, like a desk, chairs, work table, and equipment. My very favorite thing to do each day was hang out with the manager. I liked him but I liked his couch better! It was nice and comfy and fairly quiet in the office. It was then that my parents realized I aspired to be in administration. (Does an administrator need a work ethic?) I made a point to remain in that office as much as possible. Unfortunately for me, it was just that, an office. Therefore, used for things other than me chilling out. Imagine that! They had staff meetings in there. And meetings with prospective families. SO, when a meeting was scheduled, they would have to convince me to hang out somewhere else in the building. They had a lot of great rooms, just not another one like my favorite spot.
After asking me to vacate the couch fairly often for meetings, they realized that perhaps I needed my own space. My own office space, if you will. Thankfully they realized being surrounded by people all day was not my choice way to spend my time! Actually it was draining for an introvert like me. So, they made use of a small room, that wasn’t much bigger than a closet, for me to call my own!! Whoooo HOOOOOO!! From that moment, everyone knew that I (that’s Mr. Pigford to you) had my own office. I was on my way up.
Within my first year in the ‘new’ program, they expanded into a building next door. I was sorta bummed out about the change. I had just gotten used to one building and now I was being moved. What about my own office??? I like to visit other staff members but they have jobs to do so I really needed a room to call my own. And, what do you know? YES THEY DID! Once again, I had my own office and it was bigger and better than before. It had a couch and my music. Two necessities if you ask me. Later, colorful canvas pictures and string lights were added. Pretty sweet set-up for sure!
I hate to be stingy but I really don’t like for other people to hang out in my office. (Of course, when I’m away, they can pretend it is theirs.) When I am there, it’s okay for visitors to come in for a few minutes and then I have to gently escort them out. I need a sign: One is enough. Two’s a crowd. I try to be nice about it. Good thing is, it’s in a great location because I can hear and see what is going on around me and join in when I am feeling brave.
I’ve recently come up with a new idea. Hear me out. I like to go in the manager’s office. She (different person in charge now) is teaching me patience by requiring me to wait if she is on the phone or in the middle of an email. I’m trying really hard to show I am learning but some days waiting is too much. I am welcome there and feel it’s okay to just make myself at home. I’ll let you in on a secret. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. They have a special snack closet and they stock it with my favorite snacks. Good stuff!! BUT, it is kept locked because I can’t be trusted not to help myself! However, I just happen to know the key to the closet is in the manager’s desk drawer! Don’t tell but that is why I like to visit her office on a daily basis.
I really like her office so this is the idea that I’ve been thinking about – ready? I wonder if she’d want to trade. After all, my office has a couch but her office hides the key to my
heart, I mean snacks! This is why I need to be in administration so I could approve of these changes! Maybe one day …
As thought by Jacob Pigford.