In an attempt to experiment with my new WordPress blog, I thought I’d start with a little reflection on my journey to the wonderfully awesome Adaptive Design Association (ADA) in New York City. Click Here to Learn More About Adaptive Design
I didn’t have expectations for my trip to ADA, other than to learn how to work with cardboard, and even at that small/simplistic expectation, it wasn’t something I really thought about much before my arrival. What I learned in the very first day surpassed anything I could’ve dreamed.
I wear many “hats” these days: 1. Mom of two kiddos, one with arthrogryposis 2. OT practitioner 3. Educator of OTA students. With this in mind, my trip to Adaptive Design was one with many potential outcomes: I could learn how to better help my Brady Boy; I could learn how to better help some clients/school districts/co-workers in rural Missouri; I could help with the development of transition programs for high school students with special needs wanting to enter into the workforce (one of the most awesome things about ADA is their workforce being partially comprised of individuals having trouble transitioning into or back into the workplace); or I could learn how to teach future OTAs the general idea of low-tech adaptations with cardboard construction and low-cost materials can benefit their future clients. By day 3 of my time at ADA, I was bound and determined that I was going to accomplish all of those outcomes! When I returned to the hotel from ‘work’ that evening, I remember my mom saying “I’ve never seen you so excited about something before!”. And excited I was…and still am! The reality of the undertaking of this project didn’t really set in until late in day 4 when my “finance brain” kicked in. “How will I finance this?” “Who can I involve?” “Where is the most economic and logistically feasible place to house this?”, were many thoughts at the forefront of my mind that entire evening and into the next day. By day 5 I was exhausted…but in a good way. I had learned so much, and had pondered so many ideas while walking to and from ‘work’ each day…my brain and body were just pooped. I was missing my kiddos too, by day 5, and in my emotional state of tiredness and heart-aching for my little people back in Missouri, I identified with one feeling/outcome I never would’ve imagined: guilt. This guilt was sneaky…it came from nowhere. One minute I was helping to design a chair for a little guy we had taken measurements for earlier in the week, and the next minute I was shamefaced. Almost to the point of overwhelming tears…even as I type this I can feel some emotion rising in my throat. Why couldn’t I have found this resource for MY kid, for my sweet little Brady, who at 4 years old wanted nothing more than to peddle his tricycle but couldn’t keep his feet on the peddles, who at 5 wanted nothing more than to mount his chair at the dinner table without the need for help by mom or dad, and even now at 8 wishes he could participate in toileting and dressing activities with more independence….all these things (and more) that ADA helps kids with each and every day. I quickly rationalized that I can’t do anything about the past for my kiddo, but I darn well can do something about future success and inclusion for him and others.
So, the journey in Missouri begins. I learned at ADA that all I really need is cardboard, glue, and a utility knife. It took me 3 weeks working between my many other “hats” to be able to secure an outlet for the cardboard (check). I ordered a gallon of glue from Amazon (check, check), and I already had a utility knife (check, check, check). I’m ready to create! I have a small make-and-take scheduled with some OTs for next month, and one kiddo that I’ll be fitting for a floor chair in the next week. As for my Brady, we are adapting his world…something I should’ve taken more initiative with before now, but nonetheless, we’re doing it. First “Brady Project”…the cardboard sock-donner. Stay tuned!