The use of a coke can to explain a day at school – A shared story from The Mighty
“Cooking is not difficult. Cooking is easy.”
Tomas works in an Italian restaurant’s kitchen. He takes care of dishes and helps with the cooking, alongside six other kitchen staff. “It’s no problem,” he says. The Bistro is close to home, so Tomas can walk, take the bus or bicycle to work.
Tomas works at the restaurant from Monday to Saturday and still finds time to play on the Special Olympics floor hockey team at Canterbury High School. His Case Manager at Service Coordination suggested the Special Olympics team when she learned that Tomas played ice hockey and soccer in Slovakia.
Keeping active is important to 31-year-old Tomas. He swims and rides his bicycle. He has noticed the children here are more focused on computers and stay home “playing games shooting stuff”, not playing outside like he did.
Tomas and his mother immigrated to Canada from Slovakia in 2005. He had trouble understanding the papers he needed to fill out to apply for a job and sometimes would make mistakes in the job applications. “I like things to be correct,” he says. He soon learned about Service Coordination from his mother’s friends. The friends said Tomas could get help to find a job.
“Service Coordination is very good. I can call my Case Manager when I need help with this paper or that paper and she says ‘sure come in,’” says Tomas. “When something comes in the mail and I need help, I can call my Case Manager. No problem. We can meet. I am happy for this.”
Karen knows the advocacy and determination that comes with having a child with many disabilities. She and George, her 18-year-old son, have faced more uncertainty than most. They lived for 21 months at a hotel while waiting for City of Ottawa affordable housing after her marriage ended. Karen and George have now found stability and support.
“I am me and I am George,” Says Karen. “I am his advocate.”
George was in and out of hospital for the first 12 years of his life. He is on the autism spectrum with complex medical needs and a profound mental disability. He’s non-verbal.
George smiles a lot and conveys his needs to his mom through gestures and noises. He likes sounds. He knocks on surfaces and watches Teletubbies. George also feels over-stimulated easily. He pulls his shirt over his face when he needs a moment to himself.
There were times when Karen could not afford to put gas in the car. In 2001, their first Case Manager at Service Coordination helped Karen apply for funding for away-from-home respite, physiotherapy and to make ends meet. The caseworker also taught Karen how to interview special needs workers to support George’s complex medical needs. Karen describes packing up in 2014 when her marriage ended. “Service Coordination was a life raft that I clung to,” she says.
Their current Case Manager, “knows services inside and out,” says Karen. “He helps us flesh out our needs and matches the right service to the need.” The Case Manager documents each meeting and sends Karen a follow-up email outlining what he will do and what Karen will do. They review at the start of each meeting.
George attends school full days, where he gets speech therapy and occupational therapy. Karen is also preparing for the day when George will finish school. George is transitioning from children’s services to adult services—a process involving assessments of George’s support needs and the activities he’d like in his life.
Karen and George are looking forward and moving ahead. To learn more about Service Coordination call 613-748-1788.