Mid-term reflection: pondering thoughts (independent living skills series 21)

Since it is October and I only have four more months until my scheduled graduation I decided to write a mid-term reflection.

I like my classmates and staff at school. I feel like the school lacks organization when it comes to getting students organized for their assigned lessons.  I wish the teachers would provide class syllabuses to help students keep track on what they are learning.

When I first started school, back in May, I was hesitant to cook and to travel on my own. I had limited knowledge about the Alexa Echo.

I now have a new sense of freedom. I now know how to look up recipes, check spelling of words, do math, get times and keep my shopping and To-Do lists up to date. I use my Alexa daily.

In the kitchen, I am able to cook simple meals and desserts. As well as, use my adaptive equipment to chop fruits and vegetables, check temperatures on a wide variety of meats, and how to confidently place and remove pans from a hot oven. I cook for myself more often, and enjoy new dishes. (Yum, baked eggplant 😊)

When it comes to my travel skills I am no longer afraid to cross streets with heavy traffic, use escalators and elevators and use alternative transportation. I feel like I can travel anywhere I want including traveling abroad. Over these past few months I have learned to have high expectations for myself; all this despite having Nystagmus.  I have positive friends who believe I can achieve my goals and dreams rather than to say I cannot achieve.  On top of all this, I have decided not to listen to the people who say, “No, you cannot you have a cane; or you are visually impaired,” I say to those people, I have confidence and independence now that I have all this training. Getting this confidence and independence did not just happen over night and it came with a lot of work on my part, however I am happy with who I am today.  I know what goals I want to achieve in the future.

Thank you everyone for your support; without you I would have never made it this far. I am looking forward to my graduation.

 

 

A toothache, Orientation and Mobility lesson, and pizza (independent living skills series 18)

I woke up an hour after missing a call from a friend from overseas, and I was tired. The past weekend I had a toothache. I was ready for school even though I really did not want to go. When I got to school, I talked with my classmates and I helped clean up the student meeting room. Soon we all had our assignments for the day. I had another Orientation and Mobility lesson. I forgot my sunglasses at home. Because of that fact, and because I wanted to work on working in a crowded area, my teacher and I went to the mall.

First, I had to find a landmark and I had to use a map to find the first store I wanted to go to, Ross. I started off heading in that direction, mind mapping along the way. The store was easy to find. I had a fun time looking at all the clothes. I even thought about buying some thin ankle socks, but in the end I decided not to buy anything.  I backtracked my route to find Old Navy. I enjoyed seeing what that store had to offer and I even found some clothes I could wear for a job interview.

From there my teacher had me go to the food court. I had to look up and follow the signs. I used my environmental clues. Just had to follow my nose 😊

Then we went to Belk. While I was mind mapping to find a variety of departments my teacher told me how to find percentages off for when something is on sale. Believe me, the store had a lot of items on sale that day. Soon I felt comfortable doing the math and learning how much I would save on any of the great sales that were going on.

Our last stop was Dillard’s. We went around the store, having me learn the routes and how to mind map along the way. I have to admit I was getting tired because of the soreness I had in my mouth. We went up and down the escalators a few times. On my first attempt I was fearful; after a few rounds I felt confident. My teacher challenged me to go up and down two times on my own. I felt so confident when I did it on my own. I feel like I am no longer afraid. By now my tooth was really hurting and I was tired and hungry.

We went back to the center. When I got there, I was able to join in a daily living activity of making pizza. My teacher, one of our assistant daily living skills teachers, and I made the last pizza. My pizza had sauce, cheese and pepperoni on it. We cooked it for a while and when the cheese wasn’t melted my teacher broiled it for a few minutes. I had never cut a pizza with a chef knife before so I was taught to cut it by pressing hard and rocking my knife back and forth, then moving my pizza to the next section. I did not feel that comfortable doing it the first couple of times, so our main cooking teacher had to step in to help me. I love learning new things. 😊 While we were cooking our pizzas the director of Division of Blind Services stopped by. I was able to tell her about how things were going and what I felt like I needed. I felt listened too.

Soon our pizzas were done and everyone who had a piece enjoyed it. There was some left over so I grabbed one to take home to my grandpa.

After our lesson my classmates and I cleaned up the kitchen and the student lounge.

Since I was still hurting I called my grandpa. When I got home I went to the dentist. I am okay, and I have some medicine to help me feel better.

Even though I had a toothache and an added dentist visit I still had a good day.

 

 

 

Shopping and compass directions (independent living skills series 16)

The van was late, but I still made it on time. Once everyone was in the student lounge, our main teacher told us about a focus group meeting that was being held at the main office. I, along with two other students, were chosen to go to the meeting. That meant that my lesson was going to be cut short.

Once again, I was assigned Orientation and Mobility.  My teacher gave me a choice of what I wanted to work on. Because I feel like I was getting stressed with the street crossings I decided to work at the mall. The mall was not as busy as I expected it to be. As we looked around at what the stores had to offer my teacher asked me questions like, “What direction is the water?” The answer was simple; its in the South. Because I was looking for more shorts I had to ask someone for directions for that department. I followed the persons directions and as I was traveling my teacher asked me what direction I was going. Sometimes I would get the direction right and other times I would get it wrong. It is definitely something that I need to work on more. We found the shorts, but I could not find any style that I liked. I still made out pretty well. I got a pair of tan shorts, a pair of gray pants and a camo top. All for $20.00.

Once we were done with our lesson we made a quick stop through a drive through. I got a hamburger and a large coke for $4.00.

We then went to the meeting. I can not tell you what happened at the meeting because it is confidential, however I can tell you about what happened afterwards. I was supposed to close my case in September, however because I advocated for myself that I still was struggling with my travel and cooking skills my caseworker extended my Individual Employment Plan until next March. That is such a big relief off my shoulders.

I am not sure what lesson I will have next week, but I will keep building my confidence one lesson at a time.

 

102 heat index (independent living skills series 14)

I was  an hour early for school. There was only one other student and a few teachers. I talked to my teachers about a few concerns I had. Once that was taken care of, I went back to the conference room. Soon my other classmates filed in and we got our assignments.

I, along with another classmate, were assigned Orientation and Mobility lesson. Since I am getting closer to my graduation date my teachers and I want to be sure I have the confidence to travel independently.

It took quite a long time to find a parking space, and sadly I was a bad journalist and did not get any footage of the downtown Pensacola area. However I did see some interesting sights. I saw a funeral home that looked like a Mexican restaurant, a woman wearing a stylish dress, and of course the Pier, with it’s water fountain.

Once we did found a parking space we headed off. Because I felt like there was not much room to work, I was not working my cane properly. My teacher saw this and she pointed out some more space. I began to work better after a further adjustment.

The first street crossing went great, however when I came to the next one I got nervous. It showed. My teacher had to provide feedback as to my crossing techniques. When were done with the lesson, my teacher, classmate and I went to go get something to drink. My teacher went to Starbucks, and my classmate and I went to get some sodas at a nearby sandwich joint. While we enjoyed the Air Conditioning and our drinks we talked about our eye conditions and how American Politics effects benefits for the disabled.

When we got back to the center we had lunch; and while we were eating, we had a class meeting. We decided to all pitch in and have a class pizza party in the near future. I am looking forward to it.

Once lunch was over, another student and I headed back out. This lesson was going to be much shorter than the first because the heat index was 102. Finding a parking space was quicker than in the morning. As we walked down the sidewalk I saw some interesting things. The tax collector’s building looked neat as it used to be a historic building. I saw a bright orange thing on the sidewalk. We were not sure if it was a large toy or a moving chair. All we knew was the color and that it was in front of a candy shop and that it moved. We continued to walk and cross the streets. I struggled at a four-way stop because I went with the flow of traffic, yet when I saw a car approach I froze. Even though there is a white cane law, I still have a fear of people not stopping. My teacher had to reinforce the white cane law to me. After that we headed back to the center. Just in the nick of time-a rainstorm hit! I can not wait for my next adventure and I am looking forward to graduation day.

Riding Escalators, trying Barbecue Chicken Wings, and learning to pour liquids (independent living skills series 13)

The van was actually on time, and I was on time for class. I was early enough to talk with my classmates. Soon we all gathered in the conference room to be assigned our lesson for the day. I, along with another student, was assigned to an Orientation and Mobility lesson. I had worked with this classmate before and she told my teacher and I that she felt better with me coming along because I was willing to do the lesson first.

My classmate lacked confidence with riding escalators, and I wanted to be sure I was 100 percent confident that I could go on and off with ease, because of this, we asked our teacher if we could do a lesson on escalators. Since I had a few lessons before my teacher decided to go to a different location than the one I had previously went to.

Once I saw the moving stairs and heard the sound of the escalator I lost my confidence. My teacher took it slow and getting on was easy. I really need to get some grace when it comes to getting off. Going up is easier for me than coming down; my guess is because of my depth perception and balance. I still went down the escalator though. Then it was my classmates turn. She was nervous, but I am proud that she faced her fears.

Because our nerves were so shot we went to Starbucks. I had a cookie and a sweet peach tea. My classmate had a piece of cake and a sweet peach tea, while our teacher had a coffee. We enjoyed our snacks, and headed back to the center. When we got there, we followed the smell of garlic to the kitchen. Come to find out another one of our classmates had been baking Barbecue chicken wings and had been making a side salad.

The chicken and salad were tasty. A classmate and I tried a tangy avocado dressing. The dressing really complimented our salad quite well.

Once our meal was eaten and the dishes were cleaned and put away I worked on learning how to pour hot and cold liquids.

I feel more confident with how to pour liquids now. However, I am starting to question my future. Being visually impaired can be quite expensive. So I asked my teacher about ways to save for the future. The simple answer is to start a savings account just for my equipment that is related to my disabilities. How do you guys save for equipment? Is there a special program or organization that can help? Tell me in the comments below.

I am not sure what my next lesson will be on. It is a mystery.

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What I did today. My classmate took this photo.

A post shared by Amanda Gene (@amandanelson88) on

 

 

Plans Change: Job readiness (independent living skills series 12)

I was an hour and a half early for class. I was eager to do well with my Orientation and Mobility lesson. There was a wild rain storm outside, and I was glad that one of the staff members made my classmates and I coffee and popcorn to munch on while we waited for class to start. However once our teacher came in to tell us about our assigned lessons we found out that Orientation and Mobility was canceled. We were given a choice: either take Job Readiness or Assistive Technology (AT). Since I’m doing fine with my Alexa Echo Dot I decided to stay for Job Readiness. We had two new students joining us, so we first went around the room and introduced ourselves.

Today’s lesson was on how to handle your first day on the job. We talked about the first day jitters, and how no matter if you have sight loss or not everyone gets nervous. The main thing to do is to stay focused on the task that you are to complete. I asked about having a job that you hate, and my teacher’s response was, “eat humble pie.” At this point, his Iphone came on saying, “Sorry, I can’t do that.” The whole class cracked up laughing. His phone continued to act funny by playing music, since he was having problems with getting the music to stop, we joked that he should be taking AT. He finally got his phone to stop by hitting the power button 😊

We continued our lesson with him telling stories about blind and visually impaired people showing hard work ethic and having success. One story that touched me the most was about a blind man and his wife who traveled across The United States.  This thing made me raise a question about family members that are not supportive of your dreams and goals. You see, my dream job is to be able to be a freelance journalist and travel the world. I know to be able to do this I must have thick skin and to be able to have confidence and great travel skills. That is why I am pushing myself so hard with my classes and the volunteer work that I am doing.

Despite my dream, one side of my family wants me to fit the typical stereotype of someone with a visual impairment: Get on disability and stay at home. I refuse to do that. I see myself being independent and happy.

I almost burst out in tears when both my teacher and another classmate said the way to get them to change their minds is to have confidence. That would have a stronger impact then having them attend any “Walk in my Shoes,” program; however I wish they would attend a program like that so they could better understand the training that I have received.

Then we broke for lunch. I ended up having a sweet tea, chicken sandwich with fries from Chick-fil-A.

After lunch my teacher and I did a mock interview in front of my classmates. It was nice for me to get critiqued by my classmates. I did pretty well except for the “why should we hire you?” which is a way for the interviewer to ask for the history of the company. You can also mix in your own personal connection to the company at this time. The other question I struggle with is “why do you want to work here?” this question should be answered by connecting two to three skills that you have with what the employer is looking for, as well as how your career objection fits in with the need of the company.

The last part of the class we looked at examples of cover letters. It was a long day and I was happy to be able to go home and get some rest.

 

Bargain Shopping and cooking fish and whole- grain biscuits (independent living skills series lesson 9)

I was early for class; I was also eager to get my orientation and mobility lesson started. Come to find out, it was cancelled again. That made me feel disappointed because I really enjoy my lessons on travel.

On top of class being cancelled, many of my classmates were out for one reason or another. So, two of my classmates went to the technology lab for a lesson, and I went and had a one on one lesson with my cooking instructor.

For those of you who do not know I am on a special needs diet known as “The No White Food Diet.” This diet basically eliminates all white food such as sugar and flour. My instructor knows about my dietary needs and he looked up a whole-grain biscuit recipe. The recipe was simple and it used some of the same skills that I had learned from the previous lesson.

Our mission was simple, go to Ever’man Cooperative Grocery & Café and get the ingredients.

The shop was busy with people and I was fascinated by the variety of products they had. If it was not for the prices of some of the products, I would shop there regularly. It felt like they had everything I would want to eat on my special needs diet, however the prices were so high.

My instructor got a small bag of coffee, and we also got the flour that we needed for the biscuits. Before we left the store, we looked at the bread, meat, produce and the vitamins. We compared prices per pound for some of the items. My instructor pointed out that since this store was a specialty store it would carry some specific items, like the flour, I would want to buy for the price they had listed, however some items, like vegetables or meat I could shop elsewhere and save money.

Once we got the flour and coffee, we went to Bailey’s Produce & Nursery. We looked at all the fresh produce like peaches, plumbs, squash, and corn. We talked about certain recipes that I could cook and how buying from a store like this would be healthier and better for my wallet. While we were shopping, one thing kept coming back to me in my mind, “How does someone like me, who has limited public transportation go get groceries?” The answer was simple, buy what I can with Amazon and buy fresh fruit and vegetables when I go shopping. Living by a bus line or using Uber would be helpful.  Pushing my feelings aside, we stopped by a fast food hamburger joint to get me some lunch.

We had one more stop to make to a discount grocery store. While at the discount grocery store I got milk and baking soda. Before we left, we stopped by the meats and produce and compared prices from the notes that I took from the Everman’s. This discount store had a lot of items that were a lot cheaper.

Once we got back to the center, we put all my ingredients into one bag. I got a special treat, I got to watch my instructor cook a piece of fish, then he told me how to peel and dice an avocado. He also diced a tomato.

His lunch looked better than my hamburger and fries. It was a great day and I learned a lot about how to be a successful visually impaired person.

P.S. Once I got back home I went ahead and baked my biscuits. They came out great. 😊