Sunday, November 6, 2011

And Now.... For Something Completely Different

This past week, on Wednesday, The Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind - Deafblind Services Division came to our church's youth group and provided a unique opportunity for the 90 or so youth to experience a little of what it's like to deal with deafblindness. My son, Tyler, has to live with this disability every day. So, really, this simulation's purpose was to help them understand a little bit what it's like to be in Tyler's shoes.

We divided into three groups to make it more manageable. Then each group (of about 30 people) was counted off into two groups. One group of 15 teens donned earplugs, two eye masks, and heavy headphones for impairing their senses of vision and hearing.

In the hallway, the other group of fifteen were told how they should treat the impairees. The impaired youth were led around the building carefully and maneuvered around obstacles. Then they were given tasks to do and snacks to eat - all with respect.

Then, the tables were turned; the guides then put on their own set of sense-impairing earplugs/headphones and masks while the former impairees were instructed how to treat those who had taken their place. They led them around roughly, dragging them and then leaving them alone for a moment. Their faces were tickled by feathers, hand sanitizer put in their hands, and they were given a different set of tasks to complete as well as a different snack.


Afterwards, we discussed the experience and what it was like for them to experience this small degree of deaf-blindness. The youth were asked to come up with one word that described how they felt during the experience, these are a few of their answers:

ALONE
SCARED
MAD
FRUSTRATED
VULNERABLE

In some small way they were able to appreciate how hard it is to feel these things, and how important it is to respect those with disabilities. During this experience Tyler experienced his usual aversion to church and tried to throw up in order to get out of being there.

We discussed Tyler's likes and dislikes, gave a brief background of the challenges he's faced, and then discussed ways they could interact with him. If nothing else, our main goal was for them to have a greater compassion for those with disabilities and to see them as real people just like them.

Later, Mr. O ran into one of the youth's parents at our local store, and they related something their daughter had observed. She said, "When we see Ty again...when we've died...he will recognize us and know that we helped him and served him."

There are plans for the kids to come over and take turns hanging out with Ty while he is in his body cast (surgery is the Monday after Thanksgiving), and it warms my heart to see them "seeing" him differently. Tyler is not someone to be feared because he is differently-abled, rather he is someone to love and learn from.

He loves the same books, music, and junk food that they do. He is more like them than they ever realized.

I look forward to having these kids in our home, giving of their time and talents to help Ty through what is going to be a very difficult recovery. People are very, very good.

My thanks to those from USDB who gave of their time to help this simulation happen.

10 comments:

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

The Young Woman's observations was the tipping point for the tears to flow. And she is so right!

Sounds and looks like it was a very successful activity.

Thank you so much for continuing to share Ty's (and your!) story. I learn more every time.

TheOneTrueSue said...

What Chocolate said. What a great experience for these YW/YM.

Sell...Party Of 4 said...

what a good idea. there are some adults that need this.

Kristina P. said...

This is so great! I wonder if we can have them come to the program I work in. Man, those kids lack some serious empathy.

Tebbs Family said...

That is SO awesome!!! Understanding is half the battle... Maybe some of these new "helpers" can help serve Ty after his surgery and give you little breaks!

Melody said...

Wonderful! Wonder full.

M-Cat said...

differently-abled. I love that!

And the young woman's insight was heartwarming. Think of the wonderful blessings that are going to come to your family, Ty and those young people when he has his surgery and they embark on a mission of service. Can't wait to hear about it all

Deena said...

This is so cool.

ParkerMama said...

This story? Just made my day! :)

Tammy and Parker
www.prayingforparker.com
@ParkerMama on Twitter

Emma J said...

What a great program. I'm so glad you have these good people. Hugs.