A very wise woman I had the privilege of providing orientation and mobility services to once told me “I’ll do it myself!” It is the mantra of a three-year-old child and ninety-tree year old woman. It rings true to anyone who wants to maintain or regain their independence. A child might want to make more decisions about what they prefer to do and when they want to do it. A ninety plus -year-old woman who recently lost all her residual vision might want to be able to navigate her home or residential area with greater independence.
This chronologically mature and spunky person informed me at that I should treat her as if she is entering kindergarten and needs to learn everything. Her intention was to learn enough in the next few weeks in order to ‘graduate from high school with high honors’. It was soon apparent that she was in the accelerated program and would soon earn a degree in independence.
We started at the very beginning. Kindergarten included an intensive review of basic long cane skills and locating her front door. The first grade curriculum encompassed expanding her ability to execute routes from her front door to her living room and bathroom. By the time she completed second grade, she could travel around her apartment and locate all of the rooms with very little guidance. She was a gifted student who graduated to intermediate skills by the time she entered the third grade.
Before she could say hip, hip hooray, we were walking down the hallway identifying clues and landmarks, trailing the wall and practicing long cane skills. Fourth and Fifth grade included an expanded curriculum, goals comprised of walking to the garden, tennis courts, and benches behind her building. Middle school incorporated familiarization to the community room, pool and gym. Some of the skills that she developed included opening gates with assistance, locating gym equipment and traveling within the community lounge primarily independently.
High school was a bit of a struggle. Crossing a parking lot is never easy and this was the only path to walk to the community pool, lounge, and exercise room. Compromise was part of the curriculum. She graciously agreed to walk to the community lounge and exercise room with her niece. She earned her degree in independence by living her mantra “I’ll do it myself!”
Copyright October 14, 2016. JoAnne Chalom. All Rights Reserved