From the Executive Director: Transition: It’s all about expectations, I guess!

“I don’t think so. I already have a job. I get paid and it is close to home.
Why would I want to have a job like this?”

– Amy Robison

It’s been sometime since I told a story about my daughter Amy. She is the adult with Down syndrome who has taught me the most about growing up with a disability. Amy has this amazing way of navigating through life with little concern or worry about many of the things most of us find troubling.

Recently, Amy was at a medical appointment at one of the large Boston hospitals for a routine check-up. Amy, who is incredibly social, struck up a conversation with her medical provider that resulted in an invitation. The doctor, who has been seeing her for a few years, has built a nice relationship between the two of them. Her inquiry was about Amy’s activity at home and work and how things were going.

In the course of the conversation, the doctor mentioned to Amy that their clinic was soon to recruit volunteers who are individuals with disabilities to work at the program. In particular, she wondered if Amy might like to become a “Greeter” for the program, which would include assisting families while they wait for their appointments.

Amy already has a part time paid job as a Bakery Assistant in a grocery store near our home. When the doctor spoke to her about this new opportunity, Amy responded immediately. You mean I would need to come to Boston? And this is a volunteer job – which means not being paid? Of course, the answer to both questions was Yes! Without hesitation, Amy replied, “I don’t think so. I already have a job. I get paid and it is close to home. Why would I want to have a job like this?”

Her point was well made. The doctor, of course, was trying to be encouraging and affirm Amy’s gifts of social discourse. She saw that she would be an asset and probably enjoy the opportunity. Amy was a little more practical and to the point. People with disabilities deserve the opportunity to be productive, contributing members of their communities and affirmed by being paid for the services they render.

Transition for students is designed to assist students to obtain competitive integrated employment, post-secondary education or independent living. Students engaging in self-determination and actively advocating for themselves are the goals we have set for our students and community. Amy reminded me of those goals through her own appropriate sense of empowerment and natural ability to speak on behalf of her own interests.

Amy has developed high expectations for herself and the confidence to pull it off! I am still learning from her after all these years.

The Federation seeks to empower parents, family members and individuals with disabilities to embrace the Transition and achieve full self-determination for their lives. Without thinking about it – Amy teaches me that it can and does happen.
Rich Robison