Walker sat in on his ISP planning session this year, and actually tuned in to see what we were discussing, and surprise, surprise...he had something to say about what he'd like to accomplish. There is a new format which I don't completely understand, and the state worker didn't exactly explain, but it involved setting goals based on the client's "dreams". Up till this point, I had kind of assumed Walker's dreams were where he would find the next snow globe for his collection or where he and his PA would eat lunch next week, so I threw out that maybe he'd like to someday take a trip with some friends. Much discussion ensued about the steps that would lead up to that happening, but she wrote some things down, and I kind of forgot about it. Walker did not.
A couple of days later, he came in while I was watching the news and asked me to pause the TV.. "Um...you know how that lady talked about a trip?" I kind of scratched my head a minute, and then remembered the ISP, and told him I did. "Well, you know those cruises we see on Wheel of Fortune, the one to Italy? That's what I'd like to do."
Wow...from not wanting to go anywhere too loud or more than a short drive from home...this was a huge leap.
Walker has been attending a class at the University of Memphis for about a year. It's basically an enrichment class that's part of the Speech and Hearing Department, and he absolutely loves "going to college." He has become devoted to his new University, proudly wearing a Memphis Tiger's tee every time he goes to class, preparing carefully for 'presentations' with his 'editor' and learning about things he never really thought about. I think it's the happiest he's been in years. He asked to attend a football game this year, something he'd never shown any interest in whatsoever, and yesterday, he asked his dad to take him to a basketball game, something really, really outside his comfort zone because of the noise. "Just not too high up, though," was his only request. I don't know who was happier, him or his dad, who struggles to find anything in common with Walker, who usually prefers to go to a play or the ballet with me to shooting guns or watching sports with his dad.
I think up until Walker got his cell phone and started expressing himself more publicly on Facebook, I really didn't realize that I had assumed too much in thinking that his job and our family life was enough for him. The past few years with young college students as his attendants has opened up a whole new world for him, and I realized that I had become a bit lazy. Just because he disappeared upstairs after dinner every night, I assumed all was well with him.
For many years, he had watched videos of his choice or sorted through his Polaroid pictures or whatever he wanted to do after dinner in complete solitude, and I thought all was well. That first iPhone and his brother in law and niece and nephews teaching him how to use Facebook opened up a world to him that he had never imagined. When his cat disappeared, he posted about it and people offered sympathy, when he was suddenly "graduated" from Young Life, he wrote on and on about that loss (and still does). I realized that I needed to get busy again and set up his life with more stimulating activities. It was a little hard in the beginning, but now he has a pretty full schedule most weekends going to dances and special events, and his favorite a Friday morning Breakfast Bible Study at a nearby church. I don't think he's ever been happier.
I'm glad Walker has found his voice, even if it surprises me sometimes. Maybe he will someday get to take that cruise to Italy...Heck, he might even win it on Wheel of Fortune....he's an amazing player!