Start To Independent Living

I recently wrote the following for my wring group Speaking Advocates with VSA of Texas.

I remember being a senior in high school and preparing to leave home to go to college. It had been a dream of mine as far as I can remember, to live on my own and attend college. I have two sisters who both graduated from high school, went to college in different cities as our home town is Houston so I had the same expectation for myself. Of course my mom and I had to do some intense research on independent living programs that could support my physical needs as well as my living arrangements. I would need to live somewhere that had an accessible bathroom wider door openings, etc. At some point early in my senior year, we remembered an independent living program in San Antonio. It was established by a group of parents that had adult children with severe physical disabilities and they were concerned who would take care of them when they weren’t able to anymore.

Every year the program took a group of seven physical people with physical disabilities through a comprehensive independent living training program. We learned skills such as budgeting, kea checking account, handling attendant care, etc. At the end of the training program all seven participants moved into fully accessible apartments and got on section eight housing. Money was raised by our family and friends to do the modifications to the the apartments. This was one of the important essential part of moving into our apartments in order to pay for the modifications allowing us to get in and around our apartments.
I got accepted into the program my senior year of high school And I was so excited to move into my own apartment and start college. For graduation I received a lot of money to buy furniture for my apartment. I had everything I needed and packed up. My oldest sister and I drove up to San Antonio to start putting my stuff in my apartment. Than my mom and stepfather came up to help. I was so excited all of the time until the last night, and a switch went off in my head that my mom would be leaving the next morning. I started flipping out big time. I told my mom this was a big mistake, I couldn’t live on my own three hours from her. I pitched a fit in the middle of a restaurant parking lot. It was horrible.

With a great deal of hesitation, my mom drove back to Houston leaving me in my apartment. I was a wreck over something I had dreamed about almost all my life. I think I called my mom at least 20 times a day begging her to come pick me up. days went by, than a week, and than two weeks. I slowly warmed up to my attendant, started college, and made a couple of friends. Plus, I had my fellow independent living friends who also lived in the same apartment complex as me. Within a month I was with in the swing of living on my own but it was one of the hardest beginnings, I had in my life. it was also a life changing one as well.

The Upside

upside picLast weekend my attendant, husband, and I saw the movie “The Upside” which is the English version of “The Intouchables” which is in French. The movie is about a man who is a paralyzed billionaire (Bryan Cranston) who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a recently paroled convict (Kevin Hart) whom he hires to take care of him. I saw both movies but I liked “The Upside” the best because I didn’t have to read the subtitles.

I was caught off guard by the number of people who were there to watch the movie. Were there really that many people interested in watching a movie about a paralyzed man and his attendant? Shortly after the movie started, I realized it had many famous actors and actresses in it such as Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies, Aja Naomi King and Bryan Cranston and that was probably why there was a large audience. It is like how I love to watch every movie with Sandra Bullock. I may not like the story line of every movie she is in such as the Bird Box but I still watched it.

I thought it was extremely engaging to use famous actors and actresses to show people how daily life is for someone with a physical disability. Of course, not everyone with a physical disability is not a millionaire, quite the opposite, though hiring attendants is an ongoing issue. My favorite scene in the movie is when Bryan Cranston “Phillip” has a hall full of attendant candidates with many years of experience. When it is Kevin Hart’s, ”Dell”, turn to interview, he expects to be turn down for the job (he has no qualifications or experience as a care taker) and just get a signature that he applied for a job. instead Phillip and Dell has a hilarious exchange of words and Phillip offers him the job. Dell has no idea what he has to do as Phillip’s care taker and is taken back by all the physical care he needs to do for him. It is exactly what I would do, higher the person no experience over the person with 10 years. I like to hire people with an awesome personality.

I highly recommend this movie.