So, as many of you know, Tommy spent a (whole five days) week at the Woodrow Wilson Workforce Center last week. The goal of this week was to evaluate his strengths and weaknesses in order to help him get an idea of future employment options, and to hopefully get recommended for placement in their transitional living skills training.
The evaluation week also helps determine whether or not driving is an option, and what kind of training Tommy would need for job placement. The primary goal of this program is to help individuals with disabilities the means to obtain competitive employment. For us parents, this should translate as something like “independence” or “not staying home, living in my basement, playing video games” for our children that are challenged by a disability. Either translation works for me. We should get said results in about three weeks.
So, how did he do? How was his week?
In a word: awesome.
Tommy prefers to text, so I didn't talk on the phone with him, but texting happened every afternoon after class time. He was happy, he and his roommate were friends, he got to play computer games, he went swimming, and he learned about a new anime show to become a fan of. I always asked him how was class, and was he remembering to brush his teeth, while he was telling me about anime shows and the PlayStation games. Somewhere in there he assured me he was fine, and he'd see me on Friday, and that was it. It felt pretty OK.
When I picked him up, he was packed (!), dressed, and waiting calmly in the TV lounge. He hadn't forgotten anything (I insisted on checking his room), and he didn't seem overly anxious. He needed a little direction to turn his keys in (it didn't occur to him that he had to turn them in). His hair was a mess (did you shower? Did you remember to use soap?). He assured me used soap, deodorant and toothpaste, even though I wasn't so sure. He didn't smell bad… but that hair… but he was appropriately attired and ready to go.
More importantly: he was ready to come back.
Huge news, guys! Tommy, in just a week, is just a few steps closer to independence. He packed his suitcase! He didn't forget anything! He was excited about the program. He is excited about (hopefully) learning to drive. Apparently, he'd be pretty good at it (according to the simulation machine and the driving counselor, who doesn't live with him, and who doesn't live in Northern Virginia- just sayin’). Tommy, though, says he can drive like James Bond. Um, no… that is exactly why we haven't pursued driving- but that's another story. He is excited about materials management and driving a forklift. He liked being on his own.
He wasn't bullied. He was safe.
I am so happy to have Tommy back home this week, and I can't wait to get evaluation results. He fell right back into his home routine, which I expected. He needs reminders and directions to do the regular-everyday-stuff. He doesn't have a huge motivation to get out of his pajamas, although lately neither do I; thanks rainy weather! He still makes his bed the same (all the sheets and blankets are piled up on the bed), and he had to be told to shower and shave. It's all good, though, because I know he can function independently for at least four nights and five days. He may not have used shampoo, but, hey, we can't have it all. Forward motion is still moving forward. I’ll take it. God is so good.
On a side note- my husband and I were out to breakfast this morning (date day instead of date night), and we got an emergency call from Katie and Tommy. Apparently the toilet was overflowing, and Tommy had the tank lid off and was clamping the water tube while Katie was calling. Super-husband was able to instruct her to turn the water off so Tommy didn't have to stand there holding the water tube. Here’s the thing-- how did he know to look in the tank for the water source? We went straight home expecting to find a disaster, but Tommy had cleaned up the bathroom and had the towels and bath mats in the washer (and the washer going- with detergent added) before we got home. I am sufficiently shocked. I will still need to bleach everything, because I'm neurotic like that, but he problem solved, AND cleaned up on his own! And he knew to look for the water source! A success! A win! These small steps and breakthroughs are so, so rewarding!! I know I shouldn't be teary eyed over a toilet mishap, but these are the details of life that make me proud. My kid is growing up. We all are.
So, awesomeness. It was a great week. Forward motion. Parent on!