If any of you out there in readerland have a close friend or family member with special needs, then maybe you are familiar with the avalanche of paperwork that comes with being involved with any sort of government program.
If you have your child (or sister, as the case may be) enrolled in any of these programs, such as the I/DD Waiver program, then paperwork becomes downright frightening. Apparently some government official somewhere decided that six thousand pounds of paperwork a month wasn’t enough, so now they have decided that anyone who works with the special needs “consumer” (that’s their new term for the disabled individual) has to have lots of specialized training. Since I am one of my sister’s “providers,” I am required to have this training. I technically don’t have to do the training, but then we won’t qualify for the services provided by Waiver, and that would be a major bummer. There are TONS of qualifications that have to be met, and this whole day of training is one of them.
The purpose of this all day training session is to educate people like myself on how to care for people like my sister. That’s just in case I haven’t figured it out in the past twenty years or so. The largest part of the training is called “Crisis Intervention.” What that means is the government has too much time, too much money, and not enough sense. No, sorry, what that means is when a special needs person has a “crisis,” we are trained how to handle it. Now, a crisis is different for each person–some people scream, some people hurt others, and some people hurt themselves. The point is, there are certain ways they think you should handle the situation.
I’m not going to get into what the actual training consisted of. By far the most fascinating (and infuriating!) part of the training was studying the people who were there, myself included. For example, I realized there is a good chance that I have that adult attention thing. I literally cannot sit still for more than twenty seconds or so. Also, one of the fluorescent lights kept blinking, and it nearly drove me batshit! I doodled on the papers, squirmed, shifted, and glared at the blinking light for approximately seven hours. Good times.
I guess the only thing that kept me from either dropping dead of a heart attack or jumping up and running screaming from the room was being able to watch the others trapped in paradise with me. I was, as I always am, fascinated by the different personality types represented in the room. Here were my favorites:
The Stupid Question People: You know who they are, and you know what they do. In any group of people, there are at least of couple of these wonderful folks. Example: the instructor said, “Right now we are going to talk about how to get out of a one-handed grab. We will talk about two-handed grabs in just a minute.” One of the SQP’s responded immediately by saying, and I quote, “What if they grab you with two hands?”
The Smug Guy: Oh yes, he was there. The guy who knew it all and knew it best. Not only that, but he was incredibly convinced of his own wit. One of the first things we talked about was identifying changes or escalation in behavior, and he said, “Let’s just take a step back here. How exactly are you all defining ‘behavior’?” He even did the air quotes thing. He knew exactly what she meant–we all did. We all have special needs people in our lives. He just had to be cute. He had some narcissistic need to show everyone how smart he was. I can observe most of these people with disdainful detachment, but I’ll be honest, this guy got to me. I think some of my neighbors were equally disgruntled. I was afraid it would escalate to the point where all of us, driven by irritation and lack of food, would rush upon the Smug Guy en masse and whack him repeatedly over the head with our Crisis Intervention handouts. Given the heft of these papers, he would have, at the very least, been put into a coma.
The Late People: Isn’t it wonderful to be somewhere on time, and then have to sit and wait for people who apparently can’t tell time? We were supposed to start at 8:30 sharp, and we were pre-registered, so the instructors knew there were some people missing, and they kept saying things like, “Just a few more minutes,” and “We’ll just give them another minute or two to get here.” Finally the stragglers wandered in, but two people go there at 9:00, after the class had started. Not only that, but the exact same people could not grasp the concept of a fifteen minute break. The could not make it back on time, even though we never even left the building for the breaks!
The Random Thoughts Guy: Guess who was sitting beside this guy? I’ll give you a hint: it was me. He would sit quietly for a while, then just make some random statement. From time to time he would morph into a Stupid Question Person, but really he was in a league of his own. At one point, after watching a video about infection prevention, he said (I swear) “Did you hear about that athlete that had AIDS? And then they took all his blood out and cleaned it or something? And then he didn’t have AIDS anymore? I don’t know, they must have did it in some other country or something. Seems like a shame they can’t do that in this country, you know?” It was a long, long day.
The Martyr: Oh boy. Boy oh boy. This was a young woman who has a son with autism. I couldn’t say for sure what issues he has, because no matter what anyone said, this woman had to pipe up and tell about her son did or had the same thing. And she couldn’t stop talking during the whole session. Once, a comment was made about how the weather affects some people in a negative way, and she said, “Oh, the weather definitely has an effect on my son.” When someone mentioned hitting, she said, “Oh, my son is definitely a hitter.” Then she would nod her head sagely after each comment. I could go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on…….but you get the picture. My first instinct was to be annoyed with this woman, like maybe she was looking for pity. Hell, I don’t know, maybe she was. All I could think was that she just wanted to be a part of the conversation, of the group even, if you can dig it. Sometimes, having a special needs child can seem very isolating, and here was a whole room full of people who knew exactly what it was like to go through the daily struggles that we go through. I get it. She was a nice woman, you know, other than the fact I wanted to stick my ink pen up her nose.
In short, it really wasn’t the way I would have chosen to spend my day, but what can you do? I did actually learn a few things, I guess, and I met some nice people. A few of us are going to get together soon, and when you read an article in the paper about a man found dead under a mountain of paperwork, I have no idea what happened.