Lenora Watson started her career at the Association in the residential program. Her first visit to the 83rd Ave group home was during dinnertime. She remembers that the clients didn’t stop talking and asking her questions, and by the end of the meal they had learned everything about her. Lenora had spent some time visiting with clients in the years before she started to work for the Association, so she was not too surprised with their curiosity about her.
Shortly after her start in the residential program, an opening for an aide came up at the Developmental Activity Program (DAP). Lenora applied for the job and eventually moved into a full time position at DAP. Community outings with clients were a part of Lenora’s job and she says that ninety nine percent of the people she and the clients interacted with were very accommodating and accepting of the handicapped.
At first, Lenora was amazed to find out the extent of ability the clients possess but has seen so many instances of great memory and skill that she no longer is amazed at what they can achieve. She says that there are so many activities out there for the clients to get involved in and wishes that there could be even more available in the future.
Lenora is involved in the regular client bowling sessions and says that it’s a lot of fun for everyone who attends. One of her favourite times at work happens when clients come back from Special Olympics with medals.
In some cases, parents and guardians do not give their adult handicapped children much leeway. “They are holding them back without realizing it” As Lenora sees it, they are sheltering them and treating them as children and it will be devastating for the clients to continue on without life skills or social skills after the parents are no longer there to take care of all their needs.
For the clients who are aging, a different kind of care will be required. In the near future there will be a need for homes for handicapped seniors. In many cases, the family support is no longer present. “What are we going to do with our clients?”
Lenora has noticed that there appears to be a different set of rules for clients who encounter trouble with the law. As just one example of this differential treatment, she describes the night a client decided that he was going to break into a local church. Staff’s attempts to convince him otherwise were not successful and would just make him run away and scream. Someone called the police to the scene and when they arrived, the client ran home. Staff asked the police to speak to him about the incident, but they refused, saying he was too scared and upset. They planned to return when he had settled down. Lenora says she would like to see more real life application of the law as far as the clients are concerned. “You’d be surprised how clients understand what a policeman in a uniform is, what a boss is.”
They know at the worksite or in the group home, who is the boss. They do. And that person gets respect.
Lenora thinks that the Association could offer more in terms of programs for the clients. In her experience, their abilities become more noticeable than their disabilities. "Working with the clients, you see a different side of them.”