Redeeming my failure to ride escalators (independent living skills series 24)

I really wanted to go to class because I wanted to see my teacher before she left to go on vacation. I got to school before my other classmates. Before we got our assignments for the day we had a class meeting. The meeting was to remind us to take the bus to school whenever possible.

After the meeting, my teacher and I went to the mall. I quickly found my landmark and took off towards the escalator. Since going up is easier for me I was able to get on with ease. We stopped and looked at the new items of clothing that were on sale for Christmas. They sure had some cute things.

Then I had to face it! The down escalator. My teacher got behind me, and then said to me, the more you wait and psych yourself out the worse it will be; it is not that big of a deal. Just get on and ride. That’s exactly what I did.

I got on and got off with ease. Once that was done I had to navigate through the mall to get to the food court. When we got there, I looked at the many options for meals; I decided to have tacos.

I had three hard shell tacos with hamburger meat, rice, beans, cheese and avocado. For my drink I had a coke. My tacos were crunchy, and I loved the avocado.  My coke was refreshing.

After lunch, we went to Dillard’s. On the way back, I saw a candy stand. I got some lemon drops and some bubble gum. Yum!

While I was mind mapping to get back to my original landmark, we looked at more Christmas clothes. I bought a red, long-sleeved top that has a Boston Terrier on it. Below the dog it says Santa Paws.

Once I had made my purchase we left the mall and went to Target. All I got there was a candy bar. We then went and drove around looking at what beautiful Pensacola has to offer before returning to the center. It was a great day.  For the next two weeks I will be doing cooking lessons.

I would like to also address some questions on when I will be graduating from this program. I am set to graduate in March; however, I can request that I finish early. To do this, I must prove to my instructors and caseworker, that I have the confidence and that I have mastered the skills that are posted on my Individual Employment Plan.

Heavy Traffic, Elevators and a Target Run (independent living skills series 22)

I woke up feeling sick, and it took a lot of effort to get going. Thank goodness for Cheerios and coffee. I got to school early; and the taxi ride was uneventful. During class announcements, I found out that we would be getting a new teacher for our daily living skills classes. i.e. cooking, managing a home, etc. I can not wait to get back into the kitchen. I had Orientation and Mobility again. Things are getting harder, as my teacher is upping the traffic flow and making my routes more difficult.

We started off at an area close to the center. Because I had not been at this intersection before I listened to the flow of traffic. I heard the cars go left, straight, stop, left again, and then straight again. I felt unsure of myself, so I listened to the flow of traffic once more. The third time the traffic started its pattern I was ready to cross; however, I missed my opportunity. I was clearly not on the top of my game. I had to wait again, and I had to wait a long time. I finally made it to the second crossing.

During the second crossing, I learned not to trust the crossing light because it was broken. I truly had to rely on my traffic signal to know when to cross. By the third crossing, I was feeling a little better and was able to cross with confidence.

When we got back into the car it was 11 O’clock. I was hungry! I was hoping some protein would help me perk back up. I really wanted a hamburger, and at first, we were planning on going to McDonald’s, but we changed our minds and we went to Tops. I ordered a cheeseburger, tater tots, and a coke.

The cheeseburger was twice the size of the one I would have gotten at McDonald’s. The extra lettuce, onions and tomatoes made it feel much healthier. The tater tots were so hot they burned my fingers; and they were also greasy.   My coke was smooth and tasty as it filled my mouth and slid down my throat. I was so thirsty that I couldn’t drink it fast enough. My lunch as a whole was only $6.00, and my meal gave me the energy I needed to finish my lesson in stride.

Once we finished our lunch we went to a bank. The lobby was filled with people as I navigated to find the elevator. I had to pay attention to the doors as it is normal for it to open to the side of the operating box. I did not like the feeling my stomach got when the elevator went up. I went up to the fourth floor, and then we went back down again. This time the elevator talked and announced each floor. This made it much easier to know what floor I was on. I was a star coming out of the elevator impressing my teacher and many onlookers. When I was leaving the building, I saw a lab puppy. Its fur was light in color and it was laying quietly by it’s raiser while we walked by. It was cute!

The last part of our lesson was going to Historic Downtown Pensacola. There was so much to see as I walked down the streets. There was an archaeological dig going on. Across the street was a school going on a tour about the slave house. I even saw a train. While I was crossing one road my teacher took a video of me crossing.

I even got to go to a gazebo where I practiced my ascending and descending technique for stairs.

On my way back to the car, I practiced compass directions. Believe me I still need help with this.

I learned how to assess my environment because there were so many cars parked along the road.  I felt so confident at the end of the lesson; and I really enjoyed seeing downtown.

Our last stop was Target. I got some shampoo, body wash, and another coke. I was so thirsty. We then went back to the school and we had an oral review, and I learned how to transfer while doing sighted guide.  It was a great day 😊

Heavy Traffic, Escalators, Elevators and a blindfold walk (independent living skills series 20)

I woke up feeling anxious not because of the van or because of my lesson, but because a friend of mine was having a medical procedure. I quickly got dressed and had breakfast. I was picked up on time and was early for class. I was able to talk to one of the staff members and my classmates. Soon our student conference room was packed with students and staff members alike. Because we had new students joining our class, we had a quick introduction.
I had Orientation and Mobility with the part-time teacher. When we got into the van, and the key would not fit into ignition. Come to find out we were in the wrong van. Once we were in the correct van we made our plans for the day and took off. The first heavy traffic crossing was scary. I learned about the traffic light to cross. For my audience who live abroad, there are buttons for people to push before they cross the road. There is either a red hand, which means not to cross or a white person, which means it’s safe to cross. Also, there is a count-down timer that will tell the pedestrian to hurry up before the cars go again.
At the next intersection, my teacher pointed out that there were two buttons to cross the road and they had different tactile features, and each button faced the street I wanted to cross. This helped me a lot. I aligned my body ready to take off, but I missed my traffic surge to go. I had to push the button and wait again. I saw the light change from red to white and heard my traffic signal and took off. I crossed with success. I crossed two more times, each time gaining more confidence. Once I reached my starting point, my teacher asked me if I felt comfortable with crossing. I was feeling confident, and on top of that I was a little sweaty from the rising heat from the Florida’s sun. We decided to move to the mall and we would practice more heavy traffic during my next lesson.
At the mall, I had to find a landmark before I could start mind mapping to find the escalators. For my landmark, to help me find the store’s entrance, I chose the watches and purses. I started mind mapping and found more purses that was by the down escalators. Once again, I hesitated before getting on. I had my cane to far out in front of me. Once I corrected myself and got some encouragement from a store employee. I got on with no problem. I went around and came back up. By the time I did it a second time I had my confidence back. My teacher and I then went and moved onto the elevators. While we were walking to the elevators my teacher told me the employee was proud that I got passed my fear and was able to ride the escalator with confidence.
When we got to the elevators we first went over the buttons on the panels and the types of doors elevators have. We went on and went down. She showed me how to check the panel to see if I am on the right floor. To do this you hold your cane in one hand and hold the door with your arm, and then use your free hand to check the panel. After this lesson we left the mall, and went to a McDonald’s drive-through. I got a cheeseburger, fries, and a French vanilla ice coffee. Everything hit the spot.
We then went back to the center for our final lesson of the day. A blindfold walk. My teacher had me do some shore lining or two-point touch to find and follow the grass outside. The first time I did it I was scared. My teacher had to prompt me to walk faster and give me reassurance that I would not get hurt. I had to trust her and my cane. I was slow, but I did it. She had me do it a few more times and each time I gained more confidence.
We went on to review sighted guide. Which I got wrong the first time, however after correction I got it right.
She showed me how to find a seat and sit down. We then went and worked inside the school.
It was a long and rewarding day.

Learning about Non-24 and Getting Some Stress Relief (independent living skills series 19)

It’s Tuesday, which means another lesson. It took all my strength to get out of bed and to get going. I felt so tired from my medicine from the dentist too.  I had my normal wait time and got to class way before our official start time. Instructors and classmates a like were late due to the pouring rain. Today’s class was going to be a little different because a guest speaker was going to be presenting information about a condition called non-24. I had heard of it from commercials on TV, and from YouTuber Joy Ross. I learned that non-24 is a medical condition that affects people who are either blind or legally blind who have little to no light perception. Because people who have this condition have little to no light perception their body clocks are off which affects their wake sleep cycle.

The way the nurse explained the condition and its symptoms helped me understand the condition as a whole. I was able to ask to get more information about it via phone and in the mail.

The students and staff were treated to Subway, tea and cookies for lunch.

Once lunch was over I had another Orientation and Mobility lesson. For me these lessons are beginning to feel like an old hat. I was still hungry; so, my teacher and I went through the drive through at McDonald’s, and I got fries and a Coke. It really hit the spot.  We then went to Target. While I shopped I saw the cutest dress, however I have a few dresses in my closet I have yet to wear. I am personally trying to work on mindfulness and thankfulness. I then went to the cosmetics and found a sample of lavender bath bombs. I wanted to give them a try, as I have heard, a few fellow YouTubers and bloggers do reviews of similar products. It was a great day.

I can not wait to graduate from the program and I feel ready to tackle my last objective: The Bus.

 

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.

 

 

 

Drop off practice (independent living skills series 17)

I was late getting up and I had to quickly get ready for school including packing my lunch. Despite rushing around I still had time to enjoy a cup of coffee. Soon my cab came, and I was still early for class. I was able to have a chat with some of the staff members. Soon we had our class assignments. Since my Orientation and Mobility teacher was not available I had to go to the computer lab; while I was in the lab a classmate and I looked at classes at The University of West Florida. We could not find what we wanted, so we looked at Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. We both found a class about self-employment that we both are interested in taking.

Thankfully, my Orientation and Mobility teacher showed up. We were off! Ready for our next adventure. I wanted to work on my drop-off skills; this will help me when I take a cab of another service like, Urber. My teacher dropped me off and I had to meet her two blocks down. I felt confident once I picked my landmark and I took off. As I walked I started building a mind map by using my environmental clues and landmarks. I listened carefully for the sound of the parallel traffic. The first crossing went well. As I continued to walk I continued to mind map. My second crossing went amazingly smooth.

I heard someone calling my name; it was my teacher. She was driving beside me, and she sped up the street so she could meet me at our meeting location. I continued down the smooth sidewalk. I saw the sign for the post office and I heard the environmental clue of the water flowing from the fountain. I continue to mind map and I quicken my pace as I came to the court-house and the cannons. I was happy I found my main landmarks, however I started to panic as I looked around for the car. I quickly found it, however I had to cross the street one more time. By now, the nervousness of crossing busy streets do not phase me. I was even more happy that I was now out of the heat and in the car with the Air Condition running.

Once I was cooled off I had time for one more drop off. My teacher quickly found another location. We had to walk another block. But then my heart just started to melt when I saw a cute brown dog. The owner was interested in the training I was getting. So we stopped and chatted with him for a while. My teacher did great answering his questions about blindness and Orientation and Mobility.

While they were chatting away my teacher had me walk around the nearby park. I used a landmark of a blue sign as my starting point and took off. As I walked I thought about all I saw. I saw another fountain, some fall leaves that were gold in color, and the stones of the pavement were rough as I walked. Soon I was back at our meeting place. Once again, I got to show off my skills to the man when my teacher had me cross all four lanes of traffic. I did fine except for the last crossing. I had my cane to far out in front of me. Next time I need to relax my arm; this is so I can have better take off time and a safer angle. If my cane is too far out in front of me my cane could get crushed by a car. Then I’m in deep trouble. The man was impressed with my skills.

After we thanked the man for his interest we headed off for lunch at Newk’s. I had my usual loaded potato soup and half of a chicken sandwich with a cherry Pepsi. I enjoyed my lunch. We then went to a hair salon to pick something up then we went to Marshalls; they really had some cute clothes that I loved. I really enjoyed my day.

Crossing the streets blindfolded (independent living skills series 11)

I was early for class, and I was glad I was because my classmates and I were able to connect on levels of being visually impaired, and the impact of having a disability. Soon we headed inside and we started class on time. We all had our assigned lessons and we went our separate ways. I had Orientation and Mobility. The lesson we had was reviewing how to cross streets, however to help us focus on our skills we were going to do it blindfolded.

Now before anyone freaks out, our teacher does this one student at a time and stays within our space and she will grab us if we make a wrong move. This will keep us from getting hurt.

I was going with another student who was nervous about our lesson, however I had confidence. Because of this fact I volunteered to go first. Once we got downtown, before I put my blindfold on, we chose our landmark. I put my blindfold on and my confidence left. I walked slowly because I was scared. My teacher told me I needed to walk with confidence, and to focus on what my cane felt. Soon I came to my first street crossing; I knew I had to use the sound of the traffic on my right side as a guide.

I heard the sound of the traffic and I took off, but then I hesitated. My teacher helped me get back onto the sidewalk and she said I had to walk with confidence. Once again, I used the traffic noise as a guide and I took off at the right time. I was panicked as I crossed the street, so much so that I missed feeling my cane hitting a curb. If it was not for my teacher being there I would have landed on my face. Because my crossing was so bad, she led me back across the street for a second time. This time I was calmer and I felt my cane hit the curb. Success.

We continued on our journey, and I learned how to move around objects. I also learned how to use the traffic as a guide to keep me moving in the right direction.

Soon I was able to take my blindfold off, and I was grateful.

It was my classmates turn, she did fine with her travel. One thing we talked about was being as independent as possible if we were to lose our site completely.

By this time, it was time for lunch. We went to a local hamburger joint. I volunteered to walk up to the restaurant blindfolded, and I had to re-learn how to open a door. I took my blindfold off during lunch. I had a milkshake, a basic burger and fries. Which is one of my favorite meals. 😊

After lunch, we went and dropped off my classmates at school, and my teacher and I went to the mall. I was still nervous about learning how to step on and off the escalators. However, I found out I had my cane too far out in front of me. Once I had it in the right position, I was able to get on and off with ease.

My confidence was so high that I called a friend, via video chat, and I had my teacher follow me with the phone. It was great to show off my new skill and confidence.