I’m proud to say that with January almost in the books, so far I’ve managed to stick with my New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve signed myself up for a handful of information sessions about various acronym-named services. I’ve also submitted applications for Cameron’s participation in a summer work program and a youth leadership forum. As I busy myself with these tasks, it dawns on me that I’m doing these things for Cameron, but not with him. Just as he participates in Transition planning during IEP meetings, he should also participate in my Transition flurries that happen with regularity these days. And let me just add a resolution to the list, while I’m at it: During this year’s IEP meeting, I will not talk as though Cameron is not in the room. I will make sure he is an active participant in the meeting, and that he chimes in on the proceedings. To make amends for my recent oversight, I decided to get Cameron’s perspective on this Transition journey by interviewing him. (This gave me the opportunity to ask Cameron to help me with my homework, for a change.) The following is a “transcript” of our conversation:
Julie: Cameron, tell me what you think are the most important things to do to prepare for getting out of high school and becoming an adult. Tell me what you think you are working on that will help with your independence.
Cameron: Well, um, I think it’s like being prepared.
Julie: Okay. And how are you getting prepared?
Cameron: You know like having my clothes set out in the morning, and lunch ready, and keeping an eye out for the bus or train. Something like that.
Julie: What do you look forward to when you finish school?
Cameron: Learning about the restaurant business. You know, owning the restaurant or working as an employee to get my own restaurant.
Julie: Is there anything you’re doing now that’s helping you prepare for that?
Cameron: Well (my boss at my internship), well, he seems a little bit more busy than the employees. Sometimes he’s there and sometimes he’s not. It’s probably because he’s out getting like the drinks and the food, the supplies they need to make the food.
Julie: So you’ve been watching how he works in the restaurant?
Cameron: Yes, and sometimes he’s working just like the employees. Like he’s at the cash register.
Julie: And what you see him doing, that looks like fun to you, to be able to do that one day?
Cameron: Yes. Pretty much.
Julie: So … the summer camp and the thing we’re doing on the Tuesdays when you go down to meet with your mentor, do you find that those activities are useful in preparing you for the real world, so to speak?
Cameron: Pretty much.
Julie: And what do you find you get out of those activities?
Cameron: Advice and memorize.
Julie: Advice and memorize?
Cameron: I’m not so sure
Julie: Advice is good. But what are you memorizing?
Cameron: Well, you know, stuff I need to know. I’m not sure.
Julie: How do you think it’s going to be to live on your own? Are you looking forward to having your own apartment, or are you comfortable just hanging out in the attic?
Cameron: Well maybe living alone isn’t a bad idea, but it might be a bit hard at first.
Julie: What do you think will be hard?
Cameron: Well you know, taking care of yourself for awhile and you know, like, always getting yourself ready.
Julie: But you do that now. I don’t help you get ready.
Julie: Do you think it will be lonely living on your own?
Cameron: Yeah well, living alone sometimes.
Julie: What could you do to not be lonely when you’re living in your own apartment?
Cameron: Hang out with my friends and family. Or chat with them.
Julie: What’s difficult for you when it comes to having friendships? What’s the most difficult thing about friendships?
Cameron: I don’t know, maybe not being too annoyed. And not annoying them.
Julie: How do you like having your own bank account?
Cameron: Pretty handy. But uh, it’s not going to be easy without you because I don’t know where to get the money from or how to get the money. Besides my job.
Julie: Well that’s the big challenge, to get a job that will pay you enough money so you can pay for the things you need to pay for.
Julie: But that’s not something you really need to worry about now. You still have a while to figure that out.
Julie: What are you most looking forward to?
Cameron: In what?
Julie: Are you looking forward to getting your driver’s license? Are you looking forward to moving out? Are you looking forward to having a job? Are you looking forward to being finished with school?
Cameron: I think it’s school.
Julie: So if you had your choice … when you finish school would you like to go straight to work in a restaurant, or would you rather go to some more schooling to learn more about what you’ll need for restaurant work?
Cameron: I think maybe just a little more school, just in case. Like college or something.
I learned several things from this conversation:
- Cameron is an active participant in planning his future. For example, the fact that he’s actually observing the restaurant owner at his internship shows me he’s taking in more than I realized. This bodes well for my IEP resolution: He is fully capable of actively participating in the plan.
- I should’ve prepared my questions in advance, instead of firing them off the cuff. This was actually a good method to get Cameron talking. Again, this will come in handy at the next IEP meeting: I can prepare him for the meeting by reviewing the draft and interview him with regards to the goals in the document.
- I could never be a professional transcriber.