A few months ago, Jessica said she wanted a job. Rene, her support coordinator, began the process for her. He contacted Vocational Rehab, and after a bunch of mishaps, we got the paperwork completed and started the process. Today, after numerous trips to Voc Rehab, I picked up Jessica at her group home and took her to a scheduled interview at Goodwill Industries. This was supposed to be the 1st of many visits before she could be placed in any sort of job. I decided I would help her since she wanted it. Husband didn’t think it would go very far. I said, “I’m alright with that. After all, I’m retired. I can take the time off to do it & if this is something she wants, I’ll help her. “ We went to the 2 hour interview. When we got there, the job placement specialist, V.S., appeared annoyed when Jessica wandered around and became distracted. She insisted if Jessica WERE placed in a job, she’d have to conform. V.S. had the nerve to tell me Jessica would be better suited to Goodwill’s “Work Activities Center ,” a different department, separate from Goodwill and one which required a separate application process altogether. Really? I’m patient but not this patient. She’s a job coach? She pissed me off. I told her about the plan to have Jessica placed in “Phase 2” (which Rene said would be our ultimate goal) The plan- to work with a job coach at the WOW center. Lady dismissed this possibility and argued with me, so I didn’t pursue it. During the 2 hour “interview,” V.S. explained all applicants are required to submit to a drug test. “Goodwill applicants must submit to a drug test within 24 hours of receiving this order.” I asked ” What if I do it another time?” “ Answer? “You will start the process all over again.’ Seriously? We went straight to the lab instead of the WOW center. At the drug testing lab, we waited for 30 minutes to be seen. Jessica did not produce enough urine in the cup (probably because she didn’t know how to pee into the container and was unable to fill it with urine.) and I wasn’t allowed to assist her. We tried a second time. This time she drank tons of water, I gave her a soda,& we waited another 45 minutes before the technician allowed us to try again. Again, she was unable to fill the container. At this point, I was told to “come back and try tomorrow, ” I was so distraught, frustrated and upset, I started to cry. On the way out, I turned on a clueless Jessica,. I swear I could’ve screamed bloody murder, I couldn’t believe how thwarted I felt. The whole process appeared to be a waste of time Jessica’s reply? “Forget it. I dont need no job.” It ended there in the parking lot, but I thought it shouldn’t be this hard to help a disabled person . I understand Jessica has enormous limitations but this was a terrible experience. The hardest part ? It emphasized and stood as a reminder of everything Jessica cannot do or will never do, including peeing in a cup! The support coordinator asked me to tell him what happened – so I emailed him a rehash of the entire thing. At least I got someone’s attention. He called as soon as he read it.
A few weeks ago, my granddaughter posed this question:
Is Jessica a kid or a teenager?
It isn’t the first time a child has been confused about Aunt Jessica. When Jessica was 10, her little cousin Johanna was born. By the time she was five, her abilities were already surpassing Jessica’s. Sadly, I knew this would happen. I didn’t expect it to unfold any differently. Everyone outgrows Jessica, a young woman who will always be a girl. A young woman who will never grow up. On the other hand, Jessica isn’t aware of this, or if she is, she doesn’t understand that there are things she will never be a part of.
Johanna is now 25, and remarkably, it is Johanna who remains devoted to Jessica. Never once during all those years, did she ask me questions about Jessica or act like there was anything unusual about her. Jessica no longer refers to Johanna as her “baby,” but she will probably adore Johanna for the rest of her life.
So here we are, twenty-five years later and it’s my 4-year-old granddaughter asking the questions. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with asking. I am impressed that she even thought of it. I tried to explain but I’m not sure how much she understood. Mina has a sharp little mind. She seems to analyze everything and often attempts to manipulate situations and people. I often have to tell her it’s not okay to do this or that to Jessica. And as far as her question, I think she just wanted to know what category Jessica fell into, is she a child or an adult? After all, I think she knows Jessica is her mommy’s twin sister. Is there a category for people like Jessica? I’m still trying to figure out the answer to that. Thoughts?