For this week's post I wanted to talk about some basic things we have to help Michael with throughout his day. Many people incorrectly assume that taking care of someone with a disability is a large, inconvenient hassle. While it may be very tedious to take care of Michael, with just enough patience and support it's truly not as horrible as many assume. The benefits of living with someone like Michael greatly surpass the extra work needed to take care of him.
First off, Michael will always need to be watched-- there's never a moment where we can leave him home alone, or out in public by himself. This is because he doesn't have a full understanding of his environment, and could possibly endanger himself (maybe by turning on the stove, or getting bit by some animal if left outside by himself, etc.). However, he also has to have his day organized for him-- we need to tell him when to go to the bathroom, make his food and snacks for him, take him on walks, etc. As simple as it may sound, it can be very difficult if Michael tends to be stubborn and doesn't want to do anything.
Michael especially hates any change in his routine, particularly in the morning time before school. We always need to wake up even earlier, since Michael can be a little slow and grumpy in the mornings (but aren't most of us?) and absolutely cannot change his routine or rush him. If we show that we're in a rush, Michael doesn't understand why and ends up getting very upset, and refuses to do anything. It requires an immense amount of patience and encouragement to get him all ready in time in the morning.
Here's a list of some of the things we do need to help him with:
- getting dressed: Michael now knows how to put on clothes, but sometimes needs help figuring out how to button things (since his fine motor skills aren't fully tuned) or to make sure he puts on shirts correctly.
- brushing his teeth: although Michael's practiced brushing his own teeth, due to his open-heart surgery that he had as a child, his teeth need to be properly cleaned. Sometimes I'll let him try to brush his teeth, but will always have to step in at the end to make sure his teeth were cleaned well.
- Eating: Michael has done a better job with eating, but whenever we prepare food for him we have to cut things like chicken, or pasta up into pieces, so it's easier for him to chew. We can also never leave his sight while he's eating, just in case he does start choking on his food.
- Showering: Michael also needs supervision while in the shower, to make sure he's okay, but also to make sure that he's fully cleaned, since he can't clean all of himself.
As difficult and tedious as it may be to take care of Michael, in the end he's always so loving and friendly that it makes it all worth it. Who wouldn't want to live with someone so sweet? :)