I don’t need no stinkin’ handout! – Part II

Last year about this time I wrote a blog about my son, Andrew.  Andrew is 18 years old and about to graduate from high school and happens to be a person with a disability since he is missing his left arm. 

Last year I wrote about his need to make application to DVR (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation) when he turned 18.  I also described my experience telling him about this federally funded program that assists individuals with disabilities to determine their career goals and then offering training and placement to make their vocational dream a reality. At the time his response was immediate and indicated he was proud and didn’t need any handout.  I think his exact sentence was “I don’t need no stinkin’ handout”.  He was incredulous at the thought that throughout his whole life he had fought to not make his disability a way to gain advantage or favor and now his Dad was suggesting he take something for free.
Well, we did make an appointment in the fall with DVR.  And Andrew went to a program orientation meeting. 
As a member of the Governor-appointed Washington State Rehabilitation Council (WSRC) I had the opportunity to relate Andrew’s experience with DVR to the other members.  It was interesting that I have been to 2 DVR orientations – one recently with Andrew and another with our daughter, Megan, a few years ago.  Megan’s orientation was a group meeting and Andrew’s orientation was with just the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC).  As I told the WSRC members, in my opinion the individual orientation is much better than the group.  Andrew came away from the meeting with much more information since he could ask questions and the VRC could respond directly and take the time necessary for him to understand what she was saying about the vocational rehabilitation program.  The VRC was very supportive and told Andrew to come back in the late winter or early spring before he graduates if he was still interested.  In comparison, following Megan’s group orientation meeting I asked her about the particulars of the program.  She didn’t have any idea what the process really was or how the program could assist her.  I knew the lack of information wasn’t because Megan had not understood the information presented since she had attended running start at SPSCC (South Puget Sound Community College) and received her AA and high school diploma with honors at the same time.  By contrast Andrew could explain the program and the goal of DVR to me very clearly.  It was the presentation format that made the difference.  Individual meetings provided better information than group.
In March I told Andrew to contact this counselor so he could apply for services.  He did but getting information from him about his appointment was challenging at best.  He is a man who shares little with his parents (how strange huh?).  I knew he had an application form to fill out in preparation for his meeting with the VRC.  Andrew was recalcitrant.  When I urged him to work on this during his spring break his response was “Dad, I am taking a break, that means no work, no appointments”. 
Well, Andrew did indeed go back and complete the necessary paperwork.  About 3 weeks later I noticed a letter on the couch in our living room, not a normal place to put paperwork in our house.  Low and behold it was a letter from DVR indicating he was eligible for services and that Andrew should make an appointment to begin writing the plan.  I asked Andrew why he didn’t tell me.  I guess it wasn’t my business because he said that it’s his DVR, his program.  So I asked when he was going to make the appointment.  His response was “Not now Dad, I am getting ready for prom”. 
I give up! 



CEO Viewpoint is published by Jim Larson, CEO Morningside

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