Sep 14, 2012 0 Share

The Comfort Zone

Highway signs saying "Change" and "Same."

Over the weekend, we received some wonderful news. Stephen is back in town!

For those of you who don’t know who he is, Stephen was Cody’s first Occupational Tech with our current agency and he is awesome! He left the States for a while to do some mission work, but now he has returned and started back with Cody yesterday. We are very happy!

This might bring up the question of how this is conducive to acclimating Cody to change. That was one of our key goals—to help Cody cope with everyday surprises that arise throughout life without having a meltdown. Since Cody and Stephen know each other and get along so well, one might be persuaded to believe that this situation is more like handing Cody a security blanket than asking him to step outside his comfort zone. But it’s not and I’ll explain why.

First and foremost, I think this is a clear example of how change comes to everyone’s life. Stephen had planned on being gone for a much longer period of time. But as it worked out, he wasn’t. It wasn’t what Stephen had planned. But he had to deal with it.

Secondly, Cody had become at ease with having someone else in Stephen’s place. Now Stephen is back, so it shows Cody that even though someone may be gone from his life for a time, it doesn’t mean they will never return to his life.

Cody will need to return to Stephen’s ways of implementing his care plan. Stephen’s ways are typically more challenging than those of the other Techs that Cody has encountered. He knows Stephen and Stephen knows him. But for a time, Cody was able to avoid having to do some necessary tasks to help him learn because the others were not accustomed to standing as firm as Stephen does. Stephen pushes Cody more to try new things and to work on skills that Cody finds less pleasant—such as learning correct spellings for words in his writing, or making his bed, or the task he dreads probably most of all: cleaning his bathroom.

The upside of this change in demand, however, is that Cody is now more richly rewarded for completing those arduous chores. This is also a change from what he has been accustomed to since Stephen has been away. Since Stephen knows Cody better than other support workers, the two of them can go to the places Cody most enjoys on their outings.

I also feel more at ease about leaving plans behind, because I know I can count on Stephen to follow through. For example, Cody sometimes gets into a rut of wanting the same thing for lunch every day. Lately it has been tomato soup. So, I’m going to start incorporating simple but fun recipes for them to make for snacks and lunches. Today I’m going to have them make snack cracker sandwiches. With Stephen’s help, Cody will be responsible for following the directions and completing the recipe to make lunch for the two of them.

I can also feel more at ease that Cody will be fine with other changes I wish to incorporate into his plan. Learning where cities are on a map will be one of them. With Stephen’s help he will locate certain cities and their states. As time goes on perhaps he can learn more about what kind of life that city has to offer.

Cody has also not been interested in much physical activity since Stephen left. Now, that will no longer be the case. As I write this, Cody and Stephen are off to play basketball at the recreation center nearby. The weather outside is getting cooler so it will be nice for them to take walks out in the fresh air again. Maybe Stephen can even get Cody to work on developing his gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination by playing catch with a ball and glove or by tossing the football around.

I know these things will be an adjustment for Cody because even though he has worked with Stephen before, this is a change. But it will be fine because there is a level of trust with Stephen that allows him to feel at ease making those changes. Then maybe he will realize even change can be comfortable.