Tomorrow is my walking class. I am enjoying it because it gets me out of my wheelchair. It’s important for anybody, especially people in wheelchairs to exercise. I have a really nice professor. And she has a smart way of getting us used to the exercise. Every time we meet, she increases the amount of walking time until we can do the whole hour and 15 minutes.
Well, my first week of the spring semester is over and so far, there is a lot of work. I’ve already had to write a paper for Pluralism and Diversity. It was about a cultural artifact from home and then we had to present it in class. I presented mine on my DynaVox.
English is not that bad. Our professor has decided to talk about money. So all our papers will have to do with our finances. I have a paper due Thursday.
Psychology is also not that bad. My professor is really nice. She is in a wheelchair. I think she is a really good teacher.
Let’s hope it is a good semester.
Well, today started the spring semester at Rockland Community College. I had my walking to fitness class; my first gym class. The professor seems very nice. We are going to have to walk further each time we meet. We also have the privilege of using the weight room. I went there today to try out the treadmill and I did it. Tomorrow I have pluralism and diversity, English and psychology.
Tomorrow I start the second semester at Rockland Community College. I’m taking Pluralism and Diversity, English 101, psychology and walking. I could have gotten a note excusing me from gym but I need the exercise. I e-mailed all my professors to introduce myself and they all seem really nice. I am looking forward to Pluralism and Diversity the most. It seems like an interesting class. All my classes are spread out because I get extra time for testing. It is going to be an interesting semester.
I’m working on my first book called A World Within A World. It’s all about my middle school experiences as a person with cerebral palsy. I am working on it little by little. In the book, I talk heavily about how I was treated by my peers. But it’s not easy. Anybody who would like to write a book needs to have a lot of patience.
I believe that the role of modern college is to enhance student preparation for the real world. That includes forcing responsibility primarily on them, broadening students’ intellectual worlds and guiding them towards a career of their choice. The colleges indirectly develop a sense of social responsibility. Students motivate themselves go to financial aid for tuition per se, not the other way around. The college doesn’t make the students’ schedules; the students pick their classes. That’s freedom and independence. Also, students with disabilities are responsible for their own accommodations.
In today’s economy, it’s hard for the average American to get a job. It’s even harder for a person with a disability to find a job. I worked for a place called Museum Village for 3 summers. I tried going back there for winter break, but they had no work for me. I was doing archiving and I took my job seriously. I hope to find a job for this summer.
Today, I went horseback riding. I’ve been riding for many years and my instructor would always hold a lead rope because of my coordination. So today, my instructor let me ride all by myself. I actually was steering the horse around the arena on my own. It felt so good to ride by myself. I’m so proud of myself.
This past summer, I worked at Museum Village during the summer. It was my third year there and in the past, I had an aide to help me with water or to take me for a walk. However, I decided to get some work experience without an aide. I would have more independence without an aide, but as with most changes, there would be some challenges. These challenges that I was up against were things like me getting a drink, taking a break and other things that average people could do themselves. Unfortunately, I would need some assistance with things like this because of my poor hand coordination.
The work itself that I was assigned was not a challenge, but I needed some help with the physical aspect of setting up. I have a keyboard with a guard that I use to type because of my poor hand coordination. Along with that, I use a joystick as a mouse because I can’t work the regular mouse. However, none of that stuff was supplied at Museum Village. So every single day, I had to bring those pieces of equipment to work. That wasn’t a challenge for me. What did challenge me was my inability to set these things up by myself. As a result, somebody else would hook everything up to the USB ports for me. Once everything was hooked up, I was on my own.
Since I was getting experience with working without an aide, I needed to work a system of communication out in case I needed something. There were other volunteers working there, but they mostly worked outside. Therefore, it was hard for me to tell them if I needed a drink of water or something. Usually I would have an aide to help me with things like this, but I was on my own this summer. In response to this, I decided to get their cell phone numbers. That way, I could text them whenever I needed something. It was a good solution and I got time to interact with these people, which would not have happened with an aide.
When I was aided at Museum Village, I felt like somebody was standing over me, watching my every move. Truthfully, it got annoying after awhile. Furthermore, it definitely infringed on my freedom and independence. Aside from that, none of the other volunteers got to know me. Therefore, I feel that the aide factor was a challenge because it built a wall between me and the other volunteers. Once the aide factor was taken away, that peer interaction between me and the other volunteers had increased by a significant amount. As a result, I established many friendships and they said they learned a lot just from assisting me with certain things. So while having an aide might have been a hindrance, taking her away from me was a good way for me to socialize with others. This worked out very well because other people my age have already experienced work with minimal assistance and my experience was just beginning.
I feel that not having an aide at work was better for me. First off, nobody was helping me stay on task. It was either you do the work you have to do or you shouldn’t be here. That’s how it is in the real world. I would have people write down where I was for the next day, but other than that, it was my responsibility to get the job done. Although that created more concerns such as personal needs, the idea of having a communication system in place like texting somebody whenever I needed something worked out great. Other than needing somebody to help me set up equipment and making sure that my DynaVox was in reach, I would say that not having that aide at work was better. It taught me to be more aware of my surroundings as well as making me more responsible for my needs.
Staring at a person in a wheelchair is very rude to do. If you stare at somebody in a wheelchair, you’re likely to make them feel uncomfortable. If you look at them to say hi or to talk to them, then that’s a different story.