“Not Tommy”: Smart and Safe, Part 2

Read “Not Tommy”: Smart and Safe, Part 1

Katie was visiting Tommy at least once a day most days. Maggie and Katie’s dad worried a little, but didn’t want Katie to worry. After all, this was her first time having her own place away from her parents. Maggie and Jim, Katie’s dad, were also enjoying the time with Katie’s younger siblings. Everyone was breathing a little easier, having some space from each other.

One evening, Katie called, sounding upset. “Mom, he insulted me so much. I mean, he was trying to get me to stay in his apartment when I decided I better leave. He was kissing me and touching me on my bottom and on my breasts and saying silly things.”

“Who?” asked Maggie.

It was Tommy. He’d been drinking, and with his self-control impaired, he decided to try to take advantage of Katie’s somewhat diminished capacity to make decisions. But, when she tried to leave, he hugged her to make her stay. She was determined to leave, and he insulted her by trying to make her stay, Katie said later.

Maggie went over to Katie’s apartment and talked it all out. Maggie knew that whatever else had happened, Tommy had committed assault when he tried to keep her from leaving against her will.

“I even went back up there after I called you, Mom, just to yell at him and tell him he couldn’t do stuff like that and that he insulted me.”

By now, Katie had told her mom a lot of details, and Katie’s mom had called Katie’s dad to tell him the details. They all agreed that Maggie would stay over at Katie’s place, just in case. In the morning, Katie told her story to the management of the apartment complex, who called the police.

Katie was very open with the police officer, who was quite respectful to her. This surprised Maggie, because Katie is naive and seems younger than her 26 years. Still, the officer treated her like an adult. Maggie had a chance to thank him later.

The case was turned over to the prosecutor’s office, who decided not to press charges. Of course, Tommy had his own version of the events.

Grown-up kids have grown-up problems. No parent would wish this situation on a young adult child, but Maggie was reassured that Katie could manage herself in a tight situation, could recognize when it was time to get out, and could communicate clearly when asked to relate what happened. This was just about the best thing Maggie could ask for…no one can protect their kids from every problem, but all parents can help kids learn to speak up for themselves and take charge to leave a bad situation.

What to do when you meet a sighted person–from Vision Aware

What To Do when You Meet a Sighted Person

People who use their eyes to acquire information about the world are called sighted people or “people who are sighted.” Legal “sight” means any visual acuity greater than 20/200 in the better eye without correction or an angle of vision wider than 20 degrees. Sighted people enjoy rich, full, lives, as they work, play, and raise families. They run businesses, hold public offices, and teach your children.

Sighted people cannot function well in low lighting conditions and are usually helpless in total darkness. Their homes are usually brightly lit at great expense, as are businesses that cater to the sighted consumer.

How Can I Best Communicate with Sighted People?

Sighted people are accustomed to viewing the world in visual terms. This means that in many situations, they will not be able to communicate orally and may resort to pointing or other gesturing. They may also use subtle facial expressions to convey feelings in social situations. Calmly alert the sighted person to his or her surroundings by speaking slowly, in a normal tone of voice. There is no need to raise your voice when addressing a sighted person.

How Do Sighted People Get Around?

People who are sighted may walk or ride public transportation, but most choose to travel long distances by operating their own motor vehicles, usually one passenger to a car. They have gone through many hours of extensive training to learn the rules of the road in order to further their independence. Once that road to freedom has been mastered, sighted people earn a legal classification and a driver’s license, which allows them to operate a private vehicle relatively safely and independently.

How Can I Assist a Sighted Person?

At times, sighted people may need help finding things, especially when operating a motor vehicle. Your advance knowledge of routes and landmarks, particularly bumps in the road, turns, and traffic lights, will assist the “driver” in finding the way quickly and easily. Your knowledge of building layouts can also assist the sighted person in navigating complex shopping malls and offices. Sighted people tend to be very proud and will not ask directly for assistance. Be gentle, yet firm.

How Do Sighted People Read?

Sighted people read via a system called “print.” Print is a series of images drawn in a two-dimensional plane. Because the person who is sighted relies exclusively on visual information, his or her attention span tends to fade quickly when reading long texts. People who are sighted generally have a poorly developed sense of touch. Braille is completely foreign to the sighted person and he or she will take longer to learn the code and be severely limited by his or her existing visual senses.

How Do Sighted People Use Computers?

Computer information is presented to sighted people in a “Graphical User Interface” or GUI. Sighted people often suffer from hand-eye coordination problems. To accommodate this difficulty, people who are sighted use a “mouse,” a handy device that slides along the desk top to save confusing keystrokes. With one button, the sighted person can move around his or her computer screen quickly and easily.

People who are sighted are not accustomed to synthetic speech and may have great difficulty understanding even the clearest synthesizer. Be patient and be prepared to explain many times how your computer equipment works.

How Can I Support a Sighted Person?

People who are sighted do not want your charity. They want to live, work and play alongside you on an equal basis. The best thing you can do to support sighted people in your community is to open yourself to their world. These citizens are vital contributing members of the community, real people with thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams, and a story to tell. Take a sighted person to lunch today!

 

“Not Tommy”: Smart and Safe, Part 1

Katie’s mom and dad were so proud of her. She’d gotten her own apartment, and was really happy about it. Of course, it’d only been a day or two since they finished moving her in. She was 24, and had collected a bunch of furniture over the past couple of years, so she was ready to make the big step of moving to her own place. Tommy and Rick, two other residents helped Katie and her dad carry in the furniture.

Katie’s favorite thing was to go out shopping to find the little toys that were her hobby and obsession. She was anxious and focused on getting to go shopping all the time. After just a day at the apartment complex, Katie, who had autism and tends to be too friendly, asked Tommy to take her to a nearby resale shop. Tommy took her to the shop and a nearby garden store, and then out to Wendy’s. Katie said later that she’d offered to pay for their lunches at Wendy’s, but Tommy insisted on buying.

Katie’s mom, Maggie, was a little surprised that Katie wasn’t home when she arrived at the apartment that afternoon. An older gent sitting outside the building said that Katie had gone off with Tommy for a while. They must be back, the gent said, because, “there’s Tommy’s truck. I imagine your daughter is up sitting with Tommy.”

Just a minute later, Katie came down from Tommy’s apartment, and he followed, carrying two plastic totes. Katie had told Tommy that she needed a couple of those totes for her toys and other things in the apartment. Katie’s dad wanted his totes back, the ones Katie had used to transport her things to the apartment.

Katie would sometimes feel like everyone was correcting her and scolding her. She tended to overreact when corrected by family members, so Maggie talked very gently with Katie after Tommy left to go back up to his place.

“Katie, how did that happen that you went out with Tommy? How did you know if it would be OK?”

And Katie replied, with her characteristic naivete, “I asked him to take me to the resale shop. When I got in his truck, I asked Tommy if he was the kind of person who might hurt me or try to make out with me. And he said no, he is not that kind of person and wouldn’t do that.”

“But Katie,” Maggie asked, “What if he were that kind of person and you asked that question, I mean, not Tommy, but someone else?”

Katie was a bit naïve, but she understood. She replied, “Well, I guess a person who wanted to hurt me might say the same thing Tommy said.”

“Not Tommy,” Maggie said, “But someone else. You’re right, a person who intended to hurt you might say the same thing, that he wasn’t going to hurt you. It’s hard to know when it’s the truth.”

Maggie didn’t want to keep Katie from meeting new people, and didn’t want Katie to get frightened of the mostly very kind people around her, including Tommy. “With someone else,” Maggie said, “not Tommy, of course, but with anyone else, you need to be very careful. And your dad and I want to have the phone numbers of your friends. And we want you to have your phone with you.”

Still, Maggie was a bit worried about Tommy. Although she said “not Tommy”, she was thinking, “maybe Tommy.”

straight hair girl from back

Stay tuned for the rest of the story in a few days…

adult aged black and white close up

Photo by Mircea Iancu on Pexels.com

The Housing Tale Continues

One of the biggest transitions for our adult child with disabilities was the transition to her own apartment. We signed up for waiting list openings to get the Section 8 voucher. One information source said that the waiting list hadn’t been open in ten years, and might not open for a while.

And, when they are open, we discovered that, in places like very-populated Ingham County, when the list opens, it may be for only a week or two. Low income housing is so sparse that the waiting lists are full.

lilacs

We applied to a couple of places. One was Alison House in Lansing. Another was an apartment complex in Mason. Our daughter got an apartment very quickly, probably because the waiting list is arranged with lowest income individuals at the top.

She doesn’t have the lowest rent, because she doesn’t have the voucher for people with disabilities, but she’s paying about what she paid us when she lived in our rental house.

I stayed with her the first two nights, so that she could adjust to things. She is blind and has autism, with sensory hypersensitivity. But it’s REALLY QUIET there, and she wasn’t bothered at all.

old townhousesSo I’d recommend that you find the places in your town that have rents scaled by income, fill out their (probably lengthy) application, and also keep an eye on the waiting list. If you live in Reed City or Baldwin, the list sits open all the time. If you live in a highly populated area, it may open very infrequently.

We get notices from Affordablehousing.com. I am not sure it’s the best place, but it’s the best I have found to monitor open waiting lists. More housing and independent living news to come…

 

 

If you’re not receiving our occasional blog, sign up on this page.