Written by Adria Nassim
A lot of times, I think parents of teens and young adults with disabilities and even young people with disabilities themselves think that being independent means living entirely on one’s own without supplemental supports. Also, I think for many parents, particularly for those raising teens and young adults who may be more cognitively and socially aware, they often think that their child must follow the “typical” trajectory of young adulthood to be successful.
Do you need to re-frame your idea of independence?
I know it is probably very difficult to get away from this way of thinking, but I would encourage you to try to re-frame your thinking if this is something you struggle with as a parent. I wanted to give readers a look at what independence really looks like for me day to day and how at age 35, it’s not just me, myself, and I, but an entire team of folks helping to make sure the in’s and out’s of “A Day in the Life of Adria” go off without a hitch (we hope).
The following is a potential schedule for one day. My schedule will vary week to week, with some days being busier than others, but as a rule, I do tend to stay very busy and involved. I’m a newspaper columnist and have another part-time job as well, so the other days of my week involve different supports–Zoom, a paratransit bus (or sometimes Uber), someone to help me with my mittens if it’s cold outside, my copy editor, etc. (Names of actual businesses, organizations, or companies from which services are received have been omitted for reasons of privacy.)
- Wake up between 7-7:30 a.m.
- Unload dishwasher
- Tell Alexa “Good Morning!” and answer the Question of the Day
- Take morning meds
- Brew coffee using my Keurig machine (assistive tech to my caffeine rescue!)
- Turn on CNN
- Watch CNN and catch up on overnight national happenings until approximately 8:15- 8:30 a.m.
- Wake up Lucy, my service dog, and let her out of crate, feed her, give her morning meds, and take her potty
- Greet housekeeper who arrives around 8:30 a.m. and leaves by 9:30 a.m. (once a week)
- Choose outfit and get ready
- Take Lucy for morning walk
- Stop to see my friend Kelly who works downtown and have her fix my hair – occasionally bring her a morning snack
- Go to meetings
- Have lunch (typically between noon and 1:30 p.m. depending on the day) – might meet people for lunch or eat at apartment
- Take Lucy for a short walk and afternoon potty break
- Have Clinical Therapy weekly (usually at 2 p.m.) for hour (currently over Zoom because of COVID-19)
- Take Lucy for afternoon walk or go wander around downtown, go to library, see people, and/or do quick errands
Then comes my full evening
- Greet evening Direct Support Professional (DSP), who works from 4:30-8:30 p.m.
- Walk around downtown with DSP or play with Lucy
- Feed Lucy dinner, give her evening meds, and take her potty at 5 p.m.
- Make dinner with DSP between 5:30 and 6 p.m.
- Watch national news and eat dinner with DSP between 6-6:30 p.m.
- Put Lu on her bed while eating dinner
- Clean up kitchen after dinner with DSP and load dishwasher
- Run errands with DSP if needed/go hang out
- Say so long to the DSP who leaves at 8:30 p.m.
- Take Lucy for bedtime potty break between 8:45-9 p.m.
- Start dishwasher
- Set alarm on Alexa for next morning
- Brush teeth
- Take night meds
- Tell Alexa “Goodnight.”
- Call or text the fam
- Listen to audiobook or text friends
- GO TO BED between 10 and 11 p.m.
That’s just a typical Wednesday in my independent life … with a little built-in support.