Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Update From the Wolf Den: "Bittersweet 16"

16, a number most teenagers anticipate, for at this age one can drive a car, get a job, and enter a hotel swimming pool unaccompanied. For Wolf, turning 16 means the clock is ticking, and time is no longer cheap.

Our day together began with tough questions posed by Therapist B. who systematically went through some of Wolf's most challenging behaviors. Since the three of us (family members) have not been in one room for any therapy in years, the opportunity to engage Wolf in some sense of personal responsibility with us physically in his space was key. Therapist B. is constructing a new motivation plan for Wolf to see if smaller, more immediate goals can be met with the ultimate goal of bigger ones later. As we all know, sometimes the small steps can get one further than a giant leap that ends off a cliff. B. is optimistic and already is seeing some hopeful signs in his daily interactions with Wolf.

Yukon and I brought not one, but two meals to our lanky lad today in keeping with the family tradition of choosing birthday grub. Sonic burgers for lunch and ribs for dinner while watching the new Star Trek movie made Wolf one very happy boy, indeed. That and a few boxes of new Lego sets to go with the birthday carrot cake.

For me, though, the most satisfying part of Wolf's 16th birthday came in the form of a meeting with Discharge Planner. No, not for an impending discharge to home, but for the beginnings of a plan. Wolf will not be able to return to our home; we know this, he knows this, and we all have made our peace with it. That reality presents a bit of a problem because 1) we do not know when Wolf will be discharged, and 2) we did not have any sort of idea what might be available to accommodate his needs in Alaska.

We stated our case to M., who replied that she had already been working on a plan and had both the State of Alaska and the Medicaid health insurers placated for the time being. Amen. She further explained the option of a group home in Fairbanks that will continue to provide support for Wolf with the addition of vocational/educational programs. Even better, she said that once Wolf reaches 18 and is legally an adult, we can indeed apply for benefits in either Washington or Oregon (his preferred states of residence, if given the choice) and find programs and living options there.

Wolf is who he is, and the issues are what they are. We need to move forward, and forward and forward until we reach our success point. Then we do it again.

But today was a major beam in the often dim light.

No comments: