The Life Lessons I Learned While Working with Adults with Developmental Disabilities.
Definition of Developmental Disabilities
Definition of Developmental Disabilities according to Wikipedia:
Developmental disability is a diverse group of chronic conditions that are due to mental or physical impairments. Developmental disabilities cause individuals living with them many difficulties in certain areas of life, especially in "language, mobility, learning, self-help, and independent living".
Working as a Resident Counselor
I was a nervous wreck the day I met Kathy and the rest of the gang. Fresh out of college, I had stars in my eyes. I was green as they come as a new upcoming professional in the Social Services field. I was hired as a Resident Counselor, working with adults with developmental disabilities.
I will never forget meeting the seven residents I would spend the next three years of my life with. Before the front door of the group home opened, I had such excitement but also worried I might not have what it takes to be a good Resident Counselor. Maybe they wouldn't like me, what if I couldn't connect with them? So many thoughts but something deep in my soul knew this job was going to change my life, and it did.
Kathy had a Special Place in my Heart
Each and every person I met became very special to me and made me a better person. I worked with "adults with developmental disabilities" but believe me, they taught me so much more than I taught them. Everyday, my friends lived and worked "life to the fullest." They were involved in so many social activities and events that most "typical" adults either take for granted or are too afraid or embarrassed to try. Each resident became like family to me but one special lady found a part of my heart that I never knew existed. It would be too difficult to describe all the wonderful attributes that made Kathy so amazing. All that really matters is that Kathy was my friend. We connected in a place that had nothing to do with mental capacity or IQ. We were two women that had a blast together and loved each other unconditionally. Our relationship was one of the most beautiful friendships I've ever had the honor to have in my life-time.
We loved singing songs in unison as the radio played our favorite tunes, giggling and ribbing each other. One of my favorite memories of Kathy is about Halloween. Every year we attended a Halloween party with staff and residents from other neighboring group homes. We all dressed up in costumes. I was always partial to dressing up as a scary witch. Kathy never let me live it down and would give me her beautiful smile as she called out my nickname of "witchypoo Linda." Whenever she got in a silly mood or just felt like teasing me, she would let out a loud giggle followed by my new name.
Sadly, Kathy lost a courageous battle with cancer a few years ago but I can still hear her proudly exclaiming, "Witchy Poo Linda." I will never forget her and the beautiful smile and spirit that made her so special
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Working with Adults with Developmental Disabilities
© 2011 Linda Rogers
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