Rod's Corner

May 30, 2012

It took 7 years but it finally happened

Filed under: Uncategorized — summer9797 @ 9:30 pm

I have been doing this job for many years.  Finally today it happened.  I had a client come out of the closet to me.  He did it just in conversation.  We then spoke of how it has and has not affected his life.  I thought what he did was brave.  When you have a disability you are shunned enough but then you add something that some say will damn you to hell, it aint easy.   

December 4, 2011

Persistence Consistence and Insistence

Filed under: Uncategorized — summer9797 @ 3:11 pm

I ran across this quote a couple of years ago. I was amazed that those three words in front of me spoke of how to live one’s life.

All of us, disabled and nondisabled, have been told to “give it up” You will never succeed. The deck is stacked against you.

Back in 1969, my baby sister’s husband Joe was trying to teach me how to tie my shoes. I remember thinking that I would never master the skill. Joe would not let me give up. He never lost his temper; instead he just kept having me do it over and over again. I remember when I had accomplished it how we celebrated with ice cream. Mastering that skill took persistence, consistence and insistence.

When I first learned to ride a bike, I spent more time on the ground than I did my bike. My bike was a beauty. It was a red ten speed. One method I used to teach myself to stay on a moving bike was to go down hill. The only problem with that method was that there was a live wired electric fence at the bottom of the hill. Finally, after weeks of being persistent, consistent and insistent I learned to ride the bike.

After years of being in college I was ready for student teaching. I had all the credits and lots of motivation. Then one day, I get a call from the head of the elementary education department. During the meeting she basically told me that due to my eye problems I would never find a job. Basically, she said that all those years and all those classes had been a waist of time.

I remember walking back to my dorm trying to keep my emotions under control on campus. Finally, I got to my dorm room and the flood of emotions rushed over me and I cried. Remember; be persistent, consistent and insistent. The next day I was in the office of the dean for disabled students. It was finally arranged that I would take a self study course where the chairperson would observe. I did my best and it showed. The teachers I was working for wanted to give me an A but the chairman lowered it to a B. Eventually, I had a successful student teaching experience.

When I graduated from college I was presented with the opportunity to teach students with severe disabilities. It was a rough start. I was unsure of what I was doing. The teaching staff saw me as someone with no skills. My boss was always on my back. Until I finally figure out the best way to teach the students. We stopped teaching and started using a therapeutic model. It was not easy but eventually everyone joined my approach.

Have I the legally blind, tall, brown haired found the answer. No, the answer found me. It was those three words that I found on a website where I cannot remember the author told me to keep dreaming while progressing towards goals in life.

November 20, 2011

What does it Mean to work and be Disabled?

Filed under: Uncategorized — summer9797 @ 11:54 am

I have been on this earth for almost 50 years. For 50 years that means getting up, making my bed, showering, dressing, grabbing a bit of breakfast and then out the door to work

Oh, did I forget to mention that I am also legally blind. Did I mention that my mirror has more magnification than most? Did I mention that I tend to keep things always in a certain spot? Did I mention that I drive with the help of a special device?

I am usually one of the first to reach the office. I get my either hot tea or coffee started, sit at my desk and start my computer booting up.

Did I mention that I have a 21 inch flat screen computer monitor on my desk that can reach all over my desk? Did I mention that I also have a camera attached to a platform and then connected to a 22 inch HD television set? This allows me to read writing no matter how small.

Did I mention that despite all the wonderful accommodations that I am required to meet the standards of a “normal” counselor? I may need extra help seeing but my performance is based on that of my nondisabled peers.

Besides carrying a regular case load, I am also a specialized counselor that deals with those with Traumatic Brain Disorders. Something we will discuss in another blog.
I have a great supervisor. She provides everything to me in larger darker print. Due to my eye condition I must be absent a few hours each month to attend an eye doctor’s appointment in Cincinnati each month. She has always been supportive of those appointments. She is a very good supervisor and she expects me and the other counselors that work under her to be just as good.

I am fortunate because my secretary that has four other counselors always spends extra time with me helping me be more organized and making sure that all material that comes to my attention to readable by me. I am told she is he best secretary in the state and I believe it.

During the day I handle clients on the phone. I meet with clients for various reasons. I write reports related to those clients. It can be a fast paced stressful day.

At the end of the day. I pack my things and head for my car. I then drive home. I stop to do any necessary errands and return home.

Besides living alone how different of a day is it from yours? Did you get up and get ready for work. While at work did you have the support of your coworkers and supervisor?

A working disabled person is just like their non disabled peers. True, we do have to do some things differently but in the end we all get the same results.

BEING DISABLED AND UNEMPLOYED

Filed under: Personal — summer9797 @ 11:07 am

My current job is as an Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. The mission of our agency is to assist those with physical and/or mental disabilities find employment.

My specific duties are to interview perspective clients. I then collect information from medical doctors, psychologist etc. to determine if their stated disability is the reason they have trouble entering the work force, maintaining employment or reentering the work force.

If they are determined eligible. They are then referred to a not for profit agency that will assist them in finding employment. At this point it is my duty make sure they are served in a timely manner. I then create an employment plan which will enable them to work with a person from the not for profit agency to find employment. Basically, I make sure the chosen goal is practical considering their disability and one which they will find success. My role then is to make sure that agency is paid for helping them find employment. Finally, and most importantly my job is to monitor progress of the case. When a problem arises it is my duty to resolve the issue.

If you are disabled there is a very good chance you are unemployed. Statistics show that 82% of the nondisabled population is employed while only52% of the disabled population is employed. That is a gap of over 30%.

Why are those with disabilities unemployed? Could it be that we have a society that does not value the disabled enough to include them in employment opportunities. In 2003 Rutgers University did research asking employers why they rarely higher the disabled. A full one-third of the employers said that they felt the disabled would not be able to effectively perform the required job task. The second reason stated by the employers was the feared cost of special facilities needed by the disabled employees.

So, what do we do? How do we change the attitudes of the general public and most importantly the attitudes of perspective employers?

First of all, the Rutgers study pointed out that many of the needed accommodations cost either nothing or under $600 dollars. It should be pointed out here that my agency is willing to pay for most work place accommodations.

Finally, the Rutgers study pointed out that after one year of employment, the retention rate of the persons with disabilities was as high as 85 per cent.

Speaking as an experienced Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, I have many clients that are highly motivated. I have some that are willing to work late hours after most have gone to bed and work early before most have gotten up for the day.

Many in society have the view that the disabled are unwilling to work or that they are just being lazy. Rather, it is one of motivation to improve one’s financial situation. One’s attitude of wanting to give back to society and one’s wish to have a career and live like everyone else.

The disabled bagger at Kroger should not be looked upon with pity. No, we need to look at that person as someone who is adding to society and is enjoying an enriched quality of life.

In conclusion, two weeks ago I was sitting at my desk when the phone rang. The secretary said it was a client who we had recently closed successfully. He called to thank me for helping him. Wow, what a great way of ending your day. Knowing that you have helped someone succeed.

October 23, 2011

Surviving Child Sexual Abuse

Filed under: Personal — summer9797 @ 5:51 pm

FIRST SOME FACTS: According to one article child sexual abuse is defined as any sexual behavior directed towards a child by a person who has power over that child. This sort of behavior is always a betrayal of trust. Another source states that by the age of 18, 20-40 percent of girls report being abused. While the percent of 2-9 is lower for boys the resulting emotional trauma is still the same.

THE BEGINNING At the age of six I was living with my grandmother while my mom worked shift work. A teenage neighbor was good friends with everyone in the house. He loved to hunt and fish just like my older brother and step grandfather. After 49 year I still do not know how it started but I do remember it starting around the age of six. He showed interest in me. Eventually some how he got me performing sex acts on him.
THE LIES AND CONTROL He told me that if I told anyone they would hate me. He told me that none of my teachers would like me and that my family would feel ashamed of me. At such a young age, I believed him.
A SPIRIT SPOKE INTO ME This went on for many years until I reach puberty at age 12. I then resisted his advances and of course he would use the same old control tactics with me.
IT WAS ENDED One Saturday while at mom’s I wrote her a letter with all the details of what he had done to me. She cried and called my grandmother. He was then banned from the house.
DEALING WITH THE PAIN
It was not until I was an adult that I went into therapy for these issues and for the low self esteem that he had reinforced inside of me.
49 YEARS LATER: Even though I am a professional adult with friends and family I often find myself going back to that time. I do not have PTSD because I am able to logically deal with the visceral emotions. The others that I have counseled unfortunately find themselves stuck constantly going back and revisiting their abuse the grace and love by God has helped me survive.
ADULTHOOD: I am no good at relationships. I either get too wrapped up with someone or ignore them. I avoid drama. I DO NOT like to be touched. I hate the part at church when the pastor asks you to get up and welcome someone to church. I stand with my hands in my pockets hoping that I will not have to touch someone. I tend to trust women more than men. My job requires me to be social with coworkers and clients but at night I return to the private world of my apartment or some weekends I go home to see mom and our dogs. None of the incidents happened at mom’s house so I feel safe.

October 2, 2011

Why I love dogs.

Filed under: Uncategorized — summer9797 @ 4:09 pm

First of all, I mean nothing bad about those who love cats. We had a cat many years ago. He was a great cat but unfortunately he died of feline leukemia. Mom was so hurt that she decided not to bring another cat into our home.

I am 49 years old and I do not remember us not having a dog. Why a dog over a cat? A dog you can train to do many things. A dog meets you at the door eager to see you. A dog will follow you around. Dogs are never moody.

Currently mom and I share the ownership of 3 Labrador’s. One is 11 years old and the other 2 are 3-year-old sisters. They are nothing but big lovable fur balls. The oldest, Summer, is very protective of her family. She is especially protective of mom. We are thinking that the 2 chocolates would help robbers carry out the furniture. They love everyone.

Do you need someone to eagerly greet you at your door? Would like something that is going to love you no matter what you do? Do you want something to play in the yard with? If so, you need a dog.

What does “home” mean to you?

Filed under: Uncategorized — summer9797 @ 2:20 pm

I have people all the time ask me which part of Indianapolis I grew up in? I tell them that I did not grow up in Indianapolis. Instead, that I grew up in rural Indiana. Those who have grown up in Indianapolis have no clue as to what I am talking about.

I was born and raised in Aurora, Indiana. Aurora is a small town that sits along the Ohio River about 45 minutes west of Cincinnati, Ohio. Further, I tell them that I lived with my mother down a dirt and gravel dead-end road. I tell them that it is not unusual to see wildlife such as deer in the yard. I point out that it is so rural that we that mom tends to not lock the door at night.

After college I moved around a bit before I settled with my current job. I live on the far west side of Indianapolis. I work on the north-east side of Indianapolis. I am from Aurora, Indiana. I still have a room at mom’s house. You can usually find me at mom’s at least twice a month.

It is not so important about the location of your home but how that place makes you feel. I always sleep better at home with mom. Mom and I share the love of 3 Labrador’s. Something that I will blog about later.

Home is a place where you can relax. Home is a place where you can heal when you are sick or injured. Home is a place where the food is always better. Home is a place where often the best thing to do in nothing. Home is a place where a hundred pound Labrador tries to climb onto your lap. Home means peace.

I feel terrible for those who are homeless. I know someone who lives under a bridge. I know someone else who sleeps on the steps of a church. All of them have had a home but because of poor choices on their part they have either lost their home or been told by the person in their family that owns the home, that they are not welcome.

If you have home then be glad and know how much you are blessed. If you do not have a home then my prayer for you is that you find a place to call home.

September 11, 2011

Who am I?

Filed under: Uncategorized — summer9797 @ 6:14 pm

My name is Rod Stratman. I was born and raised in rural Indiana by a single mother. My mom worked shift work at a glass container making plant. I have a brother but he was raised from birth by my grandmother and her second husband. I lived with them for nine very unhappy years. Eventually, I will post on those years.

What made me different from others is that I was born with eye problems. Back in those days my vision at best was 20/200. I wore thick glasses. I stuck out in a crowd. I spent most of my school years being alone. Other kids were scared they would hurt me and damage my eyes. I guess you could call me a bit of a social outcast.

After high school graduation I left for college. Through the years I blossomed. I found friends that forgot I had vision problems. I went from wearing plaid shirts and white socks to the nicest clothes of my group. My group of buddies taught me social skills.

I went straight from college into a job. I taught for 14 years but after a few incidents of students trying to do me physical harm, I left the profession and am now a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. My agency helps those with physical and/or mental disabilities find employment. Only it is not that simple. I will blog on that subject in the future.

I live alone and am very happy. On weekends I go back home to mom’s house. I still have my bedroom. Mom and I share a love for Labrador’s. Again, I will blog on that in the future. Another reason I am happy and feel blessed is because I have such a great family.

I eventually will post more about myself so stay turned.

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