Last week after Ashley's appointment with the vascular surgeon, I took her back to school and decided to have a couple of hours of 'me time'. I went to one of our local malls, had lunch, and did a little shopping. While I had lunch in the mall food court, I did a lot of people watching. And I don't know about the malls in your area, but around here they are magnets for group home staff and their residents. Way, way back in 2006 (have I really been writing this blog that long?!), I wrote about a group home watching experience, and the experience wasn't pleasant. Other than for one good thing, today's experience was no better.
A large group of adult men came in with their group home staff. They were all prepared to eat lunch, lunch they had brought with them. As they all began to sit down ('clients' at one table, 'staff' at another), one staff person touched the shoulder of a 20-something man and said, 'Let's you and me go eat over there so we can watch the girls go by." The 20-something man laughed and off they went - two guys, enjoying lunch, and watching girls.
I've already alluded to this. Staff sit at one table - 'clients' at another. No one talks to each other unless it is a staff person shouting orders. There's no enjoyable conversation over a meal, just another task to complete, and way for the group home to check off that they went 'into the community.'
THE ABSOLUTE WORST
Another group of staff/clients entered the food court. Most of the clients had brought their lunch and went to a table to sit. But one gentleman wanted to buy his lunch. It was pretty obvious that he would need some assistance. But rather than offer that assistance, the staff person said, "George, why don't you buy my lunch too." Since we as a society raise people with disabilities to be subservient, George said, "OK." I have no idea if he really wanted to or not, but George pulled out his wallet, and both men ordered from ChikFilA. George paid, paid with part of the 28% of Social Security Disability Insurance that he is allowed to keep (the rest goes to the group home). It made me sick...
There just has to be a better way....