When I came into Service Adventure, I had a very open mind to what I would learn. I was not expecting to love more deeply or appreciate the little things in life more.
At my work placement, I work with adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. The day program I am with teaches them independent living skills, interpersonal skills, and work-related skills. The adults I spend time with on a day-to-day basis are learning interpersonal skills. I may have a biased opinion, but I absolutely adore them. I hang out with some amazing adults, and they all have taught me different things.
The first one, he’s been a tough cookie. When I first started my work placement, I was told that nobody wanted to work with him. I have been pushed by him, he’s stepped on me, and even worse, he’s taken my food—right in front of my eyes! Keep in mind that this is my first experience in this field, and I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t take this experience completely personal (I was more upset about my food being taken from me). Being around him has taught me to ALWAYS keep my food close to me, in terms of eating fast, or before he arrives to the day program. He did reject me when we did start hanging out; I was not his favorite provider. There was one time we both were having bad days … no reason really, just a normal off day. He kept getting upset and so did I. We were in the mall, and we sat down because I was physically and mentally tired and I just needed a minute to recuperate. My friend sat on me and put his head on my shoulder. He curled up into a ball and just closed his eyes. I was completely shocked, and in awe. He just needed a minute, too, and we sat there, in the mall, with the weird looks people gave. I was content, he was content, and it was a magical moment of bonding for us. I’ve kept this experience close to me because it reminded me that sometimes all we need is a comforting hug or just a minute.
The second one has also been a tough cookie. I was also warned about him. I was confused as to why adults were telling me to be careful around him. It intrigued me more. I wanted to know why everyone was tense around him, why people didn’t want me hanging out with him. I would learn that my friend could be violent at times. He is non-verbal, which makes communication hard. He is violent toward himself, and when he’s upset, he has no way to communicate why he’s upset. Since he’s only harming himself, we cannot do anything but let him hurt himself. It doesn’t sound so bad, right? I cannot tell you how hard it is to watch this happen; my heart churns down into liquid, I feel it in my stomach. My whole body starts to ache and my brain hurts. I can’t help but care for my friends, and when I cannot help them, it breaks me. Once, we were out in the community and he started hurting himself. Normally, I could talk him down, but this time I couldn’t. I became so angry—not with him, but everyone else because of how they looked at him. I couldn’t understand why people had to have such sour looks on their faces. I won’t lie; I was definitely crying. It made me feel a different way for my friend. I knew why he was upset, but nobody else did. He has taught me a couple things, one being that you cannot fix people; you can only help them. The second thing he taught me was that the world will never understand one person completely. God places people in our lives that will understand us the most they can, and to help us the most they can.
I would say that these two have had a huge impact on me, mentally, physically and spiritually. I thank God every day that I am with my friends; they bring me so much joy. What surprises me the most is how much I love my job placement. How much I love all my friends who I work with and who I hang out with. I found something that keeps me going, something that keeps my mind engaged. I am constantly learning something new every day, and when I’m learning new things from my work placement, I can apply it to my life, and I can also apply it to others. It’s helped me understand people better, why they are the way they are. My work placement has helped me see that it’s really the little things in life that give me joy. For example, when I find a snack in my purse that I never knew about, or when I share that food with a friend, how happy it makes them. The little things like remembering a friend’s big day, or them remembering your big day; seeing God in my everyday life.