reflections related to disability advocacy, family and (needed) cultural change
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Transition is an Obstacle Course
My idea for this post far exceeds my technical expertise (and my patience, I'm afraid!), but...
I hate transition. Actually I don't mind transitions so much, but Transition (with a capital 'T') stinks. I hated it when my daughter had to make the leap from Early Intervention to school, and now that she is moving to high school and adult living is the focus of everything at the same time that my son has a Transition plan to ready him for college I REALLY hate it.
But I am paying attention, Gentle Readers, and I am figuring out the path so I can pass the scoop along to you. The following is the grand tour of what I have gleaned so far:
The Transition Obstacle Course
Start: You begin in the Playground of the Past. It is familiar there, but it no longer fits. Your child has outgrown the slide and the swing and the sandbox, exceeded the age and height limits. It's time to go. This can be a happy or sad moment depending on how well it ever worked for you, but there WILL BE some emotional backlash. Prepare yourself.
Next: The Ladder of Information--this is a VERY high ladder with widely spaced rungs. The first rung will be the propaganda (brochures, etc) about your future options. Next will be their reputation in the community. Your next info will come from personally visiting the place or places and right up near the top is the rung called 'the inside scoop'. This rung is helpful, but may not exist in which case you will have to jump over the space--just don't look down.
At the top of the Ladder of Information is a high diving board. You will jump off the board and land on the Trampoline of Gut Feelings. If you are like me you will bounce around on that for a while.
From the Trampoline of Gut Feelings you must jump and land with one foot on each of two scooters (the wooden seats with wheels we used to use in gymclass--I will try to find a picture!) The two scooters will immediately roll away in opposite directions bringing you to the Split of Decisionmaking. Any compromises, contradictions, uncertainties or inconsistencies you encounter will roll the scooters further and further apart.
After the Split of Decisionmaking we move to the Hoopjumping portion of the course. Here you will encounter 3-10 hoops of varying heights and sizes, and any or all of the hoops can burst into flame at any time. At the very least you will encounter the hoops of qualifications, applications, and justifications--there may be more and you won't know about them until they are in front of you.
After Hoopjumping comes Platespinning wherein you will endeavor to keep all of the applications and information moving while the powers-that-be deliberate the fate of your child. This can be a very long phase. Very long. And exhausting--exciting background music helps.
After Platespinning you will be dumped into one of two destinations:
The Mud Puddle of Rejection from whence you will towel off and start all over again, or...
The Swimming Pool of Acceptance. You will swim in this pool for a bit, getting the feel of things. If it turns out to be a lovely, fun, idyllic swimming experience you will then leave the game.
If, however, the Swimming Pool of Acceptance turns out to be a filthy pit of vipers and sharks (or Fight Clubs) it's back to the beginning for you! (Note: some folks opt at this point to stay in the scary pool because going back through the obstacle course seems more grueling than dealing with the sharks...)
One major benefit I have found is that I do not have to face this course alone. There are people who can help make this obstacle course easier. There are Transition Specialists and Transition Projects around the country and I find great help from other parents of kids with disabilities...
I am the mother of three, wife of one. I am a Partners in Policymaking graduate and a committed disability advocate. I want to catch up on my scrapbooking, learn more about art-journaling, get my house in order, read all the books I have set aside to read and change the world--not necessarily in that order. The opinions in this blog are my own and not those of any of employers.