Friday, September 28, 2007

Frankie: Education and Future

I have a post I am working on about why Frankie is dis-satisfied with his school (TLC) and why his complaints are generally ill-founded, like his lack of friends isn't because they don't give students time to interact or that the work they give him is not below his level even though it looks "babyish" to him. (This second we can definitely see over the past few weeks as they have slowly moved from work that he could do easily to work that he asks us questions about).

But that post, in its entirety, is boring. The point of the post was to get to the more interesting question of how educable is Frankie and what does his future promise? So let's just jump there, shall we?

On one hand clearly the answer is that we cannot yet know. Frankie has had inadequate schooling throughout his life. His achievement and aptitude test scores are not very good, but I am not certain how much faith to put in them. We we have a better sense of it in a year. If he jumps several grade levels, like FosterAbba's Danielle, then we can have pretty high expectations.

But what if he remains what he seems to be now. Those of us who work with him are doubting more and more that the child-likeness is any sort psychological defense mechanism. I think he will mature some. I certainly hope he gets better at dealing with frustration, but I can't imagine him in college and I am not even certain that he will be able to earn a high school diploma, especially if the No Child Left Behind policy of achieving 10th grade proficiency remains.

I think he will continue to have a lot of facts at his disposal, although not necessarily the ones that other people are interested in him having. I suspect that his ability to make wise judgements will continue to be poor. I think he is going to need a job with a low level of stress and a high degree of supervision.

Right now I can see him stocking shelves and returning carts from the parking lots. There are certainly other things, but he will never be able to do the sorts of jobs that the other boys can do.

And will he be able to live independently? Will he be able to manage even a basic budget? Will he be able to do the things that people need to do to keep a car: remember to pay the insurance, remember to get basic maintenance, cope with a flat tire? Somehow I don't see it. Ideally he would work a job, ride the bus, and live with or near a responsible adult who would help him with the all the problems that crop up.

Back when we were students we lived for a while in a complex of townhouses. One of the people who worked maintenance was child-like man, let's call him "Bob." One of the units was the office -- and his apartment. He had one bedroom. The second bedroom was storage and the living room was the main office, and of course he had use of the kitchen. He was sweet guy. I remember that I asked if the bush obscuring my window could be trimmed. The manager told me that she would have it trimmed down some, but not much. She sent Bob who came out and cut down the bush. I ran into the manager later and she shook her head. She said she had a conversation with him about it. "What did I ask you to do?" "Cut the bush." "How low did I say to cut the bush?" "Halfway down the window?" "Yes. And what did you do?" "I cut it down." She was a bit frustrated, but mostly she seemed to think the solution was to make sure he did unusual jobs RIGHT AFTER getting the instructions.

I always wondered how that arrangement got set up. It was perfect for him. I know that he did not have to worry about paying for utilities or rent. When he needed new tires on his truck the manager noticed and sent another worker with him to the shop. They paid for the tires and then took it out of his wages a little at a time.

I don't think Frankie would need that much support, although he might.

It is too early to make these decisions, but I can actually imagine a future in which Frankie does live with us for a decade or two or three. I haven't even brought it up with Hubby, but I can imagine it. Of course he is going to outlive me in any case, so he will need another environment, or more independent living skills.

Or maybe he can live with Mrs. Butter B.


  1. There is something for adults who receive disability payments called a "protective payee", where paychecks or support checks a client receives go directly to this person, who then pays the regular bills for them and hands them the balance, depending on how much help they need with that. I work in low-income housing, and we have had a lot of people who use that system. Usually they also get a social worker to help them with things like car insurance, etc. as well. You can hire accountants for this same thing, and it doesn't usually cost very much. I do this for my younger ADD/PDD-NOS brother. That way we know his rent is paid, but he has control over the rest of his money. It usually works pretty well.

  2. Anonymous3:14 PM

    When I worked with homeless people, I knew some people who had some similar issues, but were not low-functioning enough to get services or SSI. Unfortunately, the women among them frequently coped by getting into relationships with men who earned enough money to keep the household running. The women ended up vulnerable, in relationships with drug abusing and/or violent men, and when they finally did break up, they found themselves homeless. It was a sucky situation, especially for the kids involved. Sorry this comment is so negative. One point worth noting, though, is that these individuals rarely had supportive families. Perhaps that means that those that do can come up with better arrangements and not wind up at that level of desperation.

  3. Do you think Frankie will be eligible for Dept of Mental Health or Dept of Mental Retardation services? If he is, they will provide all that you imagine Frankie needing. The problem though is that unless the client is declared incompetent, all services are voluntary. So all sorts of arrangements like representative payees and housing and someone who comes every day and makes sure you take your medicine can all go up in smoke when the client decides he doesn't like his case manager, wants to buy a car for his girlfriend, and doesn't need to take his medicine. I'm not saying that will be Frankie, just that it's a difficult situation in general.

  4. Although "Danielle" has made some huge gains in her academics, I still worry and wonder if she'll ever be fully independent. There are so many skills that she still lacks, that I find myself worrying about her future.

    She has a lot of potential, but I don't see anything in her future as certain.

  5. LOL- see what happens? I disappear for one day and gain a relative. Oddly, this isn't the first time this has happened. At least this time I had advance warning before someone bounces in my bedroom and says "Hey, you don't mind pink underwear, right? Cuz your a girl? ANd well, kinda everybody's is pink but I put Shout in the machine and rewashed it so it should fix it!"

    Yes, I have been there.

    But seriously, there are several people I know that crave this type of care. My aunt, who is nursing her 52 yr old Down's son, who has Alzheimers (Yes, I Know that is incredibly rare. All I can say is, she has taken very excellent care of him for the past 50 years, and drs are continually amazed at how he is still alive. Most DOwnsers don't make it long enough to develop Alzheimers)

    She told me the other day (at 72 yrs old mind you) that she's ready to start fostering again. Or having someone to "care for". I truly believe that some people are just designed to care in that special way for kids in adult bodies.

    There are also places that are set up for independent living- but typically for more dependent individuals than Frankie. There's a place in Northern Mississippi (trying to think of the name) that does just that. They are "Christian" based, and I remember hearing their choir sing (amazing btw).

    Let me go ponder the name of that place. I'll be back!


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