Anne is the single mother of Garrett – a beautiful, brown-eyed, 15-year-old with a disability.
Professionals have not been able to diagnose Garrett, so there is no name for what he has. He has autistic behaviors. He also has flat feet, so he must wear orthotics and he has scoliosis, so he must wear a brace 20 hours per day. Garrett also experiences myoclonic epilepsy (short jerks or spasms), treated with medication twice daily. He cannot dress himself, brush his hair or teeth or bathe himself. He must be supervised at all times, because he likes to pull pictures off walls, make noise with the blinds, and run out into the street. People stare at him when Anne takes him in public, where he likes to scream, make loud noises, and touch people. They don’t go out often, but Garrett loves people and prefers to be on the move. He seems to have a sixth sense about character and usually approaches people who “get it”.
Garrett learned to walk at age six. He is non-verbal, but does communicate through some signs and movement. He cannot chew, so his food must be ground up. He is not toilet trained. His developmental equivalence is between 18 months and 2.5 years. Despite all this, Garrett is a happy, “amazing kid”.
A day in the life of Anne and Garrett:
|6:00||Anne gets up and lays out breakfast for Garrett, including his medication and sippy cup.|
|6:15||Anne wakes up Garrett. If he wakes up dry, she won’t have to wash and change the sheets (about 50% of the time). She puts him on the toilet to practice toilet training. She combs his hair, dresses him, and feeds him breakfast. Garrett points to what he wants to eat.|
|6:45||She puts him on the toilet again, changes him, if necessary, puts him back in his brace and brushes his teeth. She packs his backpack with 6 diapers. They wait for the school bus.|
|6:55||Garrett catches the bus to Le Bois Junior High, which has a Special Education program.|
|3:45||Garrett arrives home, greeted by his therapist. She feeds him a snack and then helps him with toilet training. Then they venture into the community to practice life skills, like patience (sitting and waiting), and gentleness (with things like breakables), and appropriate behaviors, like not rocking.|
|5:30||Garrett’s father picks him up and brings him to Anne’s house, where dinner’s waiting.|
|6:30||Bath and/or playtime. He likes typical young boy toys, especially loud ones! Anne spends every minute attending to Garrett until bedtime.|
|9:00||Change his diaper, put him into his pajamas and lay with him until he falls asleep.|