My new semester has begun, which means new students. Our young adults (ages 18 to 26 with disabilities) are assigned to job sites typically for one semester at a time and switch to a different site every semester. Our students spend half the day on the job with a job coach (like me) and the other half at school taking classes that are geared toward independent living.
My group is In-House Custodial, fancy for “we stay at school and clean it.” I am assigned students who are new, are not ready to go out to other sites, or are difficult to place for one reason or another. I also take on stragglers who arrive at school late and have missed their ride to their normal job site.
My group this semester is going to be a bit challenging. I have a few students back from last semester. Pam* has a worsening visual impairment and now uses a cane, but she has a wonderful attitude and works very hard to compensate for her sight loss. Bridget* has food issues and needs to be in a controlled environment like ours, but just when I think I am making progress with her, I find out I have been lied to again! Tim* has an inoperable brain tumor and is undergoing oral chemo; he is now using a wheelchair because his balance has been affected. He is a sweet young man who never feels sorry for himself (just needs to take a nap now and then, which is just fine with me).Among my new students is Doug*, who resides in a group home and has been suspended already in his first two weeks! Craig* is also new and seems like a nice young man when he is able to actually get out of bed and get to school.
This semester I have had to set some new boundaries. For example, I set the limit of students I can take at once at six. Because I have been assigned one student who is partially blind and another who uses a wheelchair, I asked for some extra help and received two wonderful parent volunteers for two days each week! I really appreciate having those extra hands around.
I am trying to get my group to gel, but so far there have been so many disruptions that I do not feel we have properly begun yet. This week I got the flu and missed two days -- that certainly didn’t help the “gelling process.”
It’s February and I must be really low on vitamin D because everything is a bit of a struggle right now! How are you all getting through the winter blues?
*Names have been changed.