This assignment that I'm on is going to be an emotional rollercoaster. I am tasked with reviewing a bunch of centers that provide day and employment services to adults with disabilities. Most of the disabilities are intellectual or developmental in nature, but there are also many of the adults who have physical disabilities.
This week we did the first two reviews. We have 28 in total to carry out, and each one takes a full day. I have a team of four who come with me. We arrive at the center, where the staff have been asked to make a presentation on what it is that they do. Then we take a tour of the center and meet the folks.
Twice yesterday I had to escape to the restroom before the tears flowed.
First, it hit me that I have been asked to lead this process that is so incredibly important. I have to get this right! I am being asked to make recommendations about changing this system in our province. I am being asked to make recommendations that will balance the political agenda (do the right thing in the public eye), the bureaucratic agenda (do the right thing in the public eye, for the people and oh by the way save us some money while you're doing it) and the people's agenda (help me to have a quality life and treat me with respect).
On the tour yesterday, we walked into a room where a session of music therapy was taking place. There were 35 profoundly disabled adults in this room....some on chairs, some in wheelchairs, some walking around. The music therapist was leading a medley of Christmas songs, and everybody had an instrument of some sort to play along. Some had sticks and claves, some had eggs or tambourines, and two had xylophones. It was an amazing sound. But the sweetest sight and sound was the joy in the voices that were singing along ... even if you couldn't make out the words because of speech defects ... and the sight of a non-verbal young woman shaking her tambourine, waving and shaking with joy as she made noises to the music. We then moved into the woodworking shop, where the guys spoke so proudly about the recycling bins that are made and sold at craft shows. They talked about how they loved to come to work, and how they had been able to help put new windows in their shop last month....and had we gone outside to see the new garage they had helped to build yet?
The other reason that it's so important that I get this right is personal. I realized that should I continue to pursue pregnancy as an option for building our family, we have a fairly high chance of having a disabled child. I say this because there is a lot of hereditary stuff in my family, as well as the obvious bits about trying to have a child at my age. I witnessed the impact of having a good service for the families of the folks I met this week.
I don't know how my heart and hormones will make it through 26 more of these reviews.