I'm blind, a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the state commission for the blind and was visiting with Marvin, a new referral. The initial information I had about Marvin was that he had been referred by a neighbor and he’d been on disability for more than a year. During my phone call to set up today’s meeting, he had admitted that he knew little about how a person can live with blindness and knew nothing about services available to him.
Marvin was saying, “I’m legally blind. Got some kind of retinal degeneration; the doctors can’t agree on what it is. It went slow, but it finally forced me to give up a twenty-year career in construction. And I suppose I need to know some stuff about helping with it.”
“Well, let me give you an overview of what services are available,” I said, and for five minutes I talked more or less in a steady stream of information and commentary. I could tell through Marvin’s movements that mostly he was paying attention, though there were times when I had to repeat things.
When I got to home skills, he said, “Ah, I do okay with most stuff. I can still see most anything that I get right square in front of me. I mean ah…” He made movements of looking around his living room. “You can’t see it, but I do pretty good keeping the place up. And I eat okay. Hah! Only wore out one microwave this year. But wasn’t ever much of a cook, anyway.”
“How about getting around town? Is your vision a problem for that?” I was certain that with his type of vision loss that he'd be needing some travel instruction and a cane.
He made a sound almost like a snicker and said, “Well first, I avoid going anywhere at night; can’t see nothing. And in the daytime, well, if you want to call just about getting killed crossing the street every three to four weeks as an answer to ‘Do I get there,’ then yeah I get around.”
“Well…” Thinking to ask yet another question that for most of us motivates a guy to get some new travel skills, “What about going back to work? Would you like to be able to do that?”
“Employment? Well…I would still like to work, but I don’t want to lose my disability check. I see problems with all that.”
Marvin stopped talking and made sounds of extracting several objects from a small wooden box. “Do you mind if I smoke? I'll blow it toward the window.” It was a hot and muggy day and he didn’t have his air on yet.
“Well…” Being from a family where both parents had smoked, I was someone who, if necessary, could put up with it and so I kidded him, “I don’t mind. If it gets too smoky, I'll just move out on to the porch and talk to you through the screen door. “Marvin,” I said, “about all this adjustment stuff we are talking about. If you want, I'll share with you what my experience has been and what I know about how others just like us have learned to cope with blindness?”
There was the click and flare of his lighter and I could smell the unmistakable scent of pot. And well…I had a choice to make, either I stayed to see where this would take us or I tell him how this isn’t acceptable and leave. He struck a second light, followed it with a sharp intake of breath, then with smoke erupting from his air passages, he said, “Yeah, thanks for all that. But in the end, you know, we all do what works best for us. You do it your way...”
e-mail responses to email@example.com
I went through a similar process when I was diagnosed with RP at 28. I began to recover due to the NY state CB-VH and my caseworker. They didn't give up on me and that instilled hope that I would someday recover and regain my Independence.
Ann Chiappetta, M.S. Family Therapist
**2. First. A *NEIGHBOR* referred this guy? If I had neighbors like that, there'd be a lot of empty houses--is that legal? I can imagine that Marvin would be somewhat resentful on this grounds alone.
Secondly. The portrayal of the rehab counselor is perfect, and unfortunate. The doctrine of "hold out all the things you *MIGHT* do, tell them what we *MIGHT* do and downplay what they will *HAVE TO* do is ass-backward, but all too common. Typical of government run agencies participating in the budgetary shell game for glorious cash prizes, agencies such as Rehab need to make themselves look good when in fact to most blind people they smell fugly. If you don't believe me, just ask them and listen to them whine for hours; me, now, I don't whine--I write letters about it whenever I get the chance. That's because I'm better than you. *grin*
So it's no wonder this poor construction worker, who's just had a ton of bricks dropped on him by a total stranger, been reminded of his traumatic sight loss and told he's not doing it right, calls for help. Why does this rehab worker think it is "unacceptable," and have a "choice to make?" Guy's a guest in Marvin's house, where does he get off? Guy's sounding more like a fascist by the minute, which is the last thing Marvin needs and, often, the first thing one gets from a rehab type place, in my (admittedly limited but vivid) experience. What the worker *SHOULD* do right now, IMHO, is say something like, "Marvin, dude, are you gonna hog it all, it's not like I have to drive home, and I know where the boss keeps his secret stash of Snickers bars," join in with Marvin, and be his *FRIEND* rather than his *COUNSELLOR*. I think "counselor," is a misnomer for most Rehab agents--perhaps, in fact, agent would be a better term for them. There's an old expression; you catch more flies with dog pee than you do with a .357 Magnum.
--Provoke the thoughts, feed the pet peeves. :)
**3. That is the problem with most blind counselors I've come across. They assume everyone is like them wants to learn what they want to teach not asking the client what they feel they want or need it's a be like me or your wrong attitude! 1. Marvin was referred by a neighbor not a professional, bad start 2.he has been getting along for a year only problem he admitted was crossing streets the councilor said she went into a 5 minute spiel throwing to much information at him at once. I can not use a cane in my wheelchair I must travel my way. I am differently abled. He has to get over that I am not blind stage be offered solutions to crossing streets safely for both him and automobile drivers. As far as his smoking pot she should have asked him to wait until after her visit instead of playing the long suffering game! Let him do it his way assisting him with problems he admits to along the way. Encourage him to turn his love of wood into a profitable hobby easing himself off government supports in his own time. There was a chance for the "blind councilor to please both her client and agency if she had only worked with him instead of handling him trying to force him into a mold that pleased only her! We are individuals.
Diane Dobson Victoria BC Canada
**4. I used to work in rehab for several years. If that scenario had happened, I would notify my supervisor, and if asked to report it, I would. I would probably do so on my own anyway, but would first let my supervisor know what's going on.
I know the police department in our area has a community liaison in our area, and so would approach them with the scenario, too.
**5. This is a case of a counselor not listening to his client. Marvin gives two openings, "I suppose I need to learn some stuff", and "I do Ok with most things". The counselor starts the interview with a five minute monolog when he could have asked an open-ended question about what his client wanted to learn. He didn't follow up on what Marvin wanted to do better at home. Maybe a way to handle a music collection or even a new microwave that a near-blind person could use.
The pot-smoking is a pretty clear attempt to blow off his counselor. The counselor never acknowledges this, nor does he offer services at a time when his client may be more available for them.
Change is hard to make, and a year isn't all that long. Let's hope these two don't give up on each other.
Abby Vincent ACB-L listserv
**6. Well, at that point, my session with this guy would have been over. I would not, first of all, try to have any kind of conversation with someone who is smoking Pot, or using alcohol, because there is no point to it. Secondly, I will not risk my profession or my license with them because all the counselor would need at that point was for the same concerned neighbor to call the Police--if the same concerned neighbor could see the guy using the Pot. But obviously, this man wasn't "quite there" and had not reached the point that he needed or wanted to address his blindness. Whatever he is or was doing still worked for him: the income from the SSDI (and how he got it so quickly is beyond me but anyway). We cannot force them, we can only plant seeds. So, I would explain that I could no longer continue our conversation because while smoking cigarettes would have been fine, smoking illegal substances was not and now, I needed to leave. He could invite me back at a later time when he wanted to talk further, or when things were not working for him. I would then leave my business card and whatever other information I had and make my escape. I would call him in a few weeks to see how he was doing, then put him on my follow-up list to call ever so often but otherwise, there is nothing more to do. He has to make the decision of when he needs and wants what I have to offer.
Jessie ACB-L listserv
**7. What was the point to that visit. Marvin didn't sound interested in learning anything new at all.
Jabber NABS-L listserv
**8. Yep, definitely agree with ya there. I guess not everyone wants to be helped when it's offered, but at least the counselor went out and offered his services. Hopefully Marvin's attitude about his blindness will eventually change.
Anjelina and Fritzie nabs-l
**9. The first thing we were taught in the first clinical course I took was to start where the client is, I. e. ask him or her about concerns, fears, expectations, goals, etc. and go from there. It's about the client, not the counselor.
Andy Baracco ACB-L listserv
**10. Yes, each person has the right or option to do it his/her way. All we can do, as rehabilitation professionals or friends/family members, is to suggest. In the end, it is up to the individual to cope the way that meets his/her needs. What is correct or effective for me, isn't necessarily what works for someone else.
Being employed is important to me. I enjoy being an advocate, involved in consumer and community organizations/committees. However, that kind of lifestyle isn't for everyone. We have the task of giving the person the opportunity to achieve. What the person does with that opportunity, how he/she chooses to achieve, is up to the individual.
Doug Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org)
**11. I hate to generalize but most people like this character are too stupid to realize that information can be obtained without your eyes, don't want to return to employment, and would rather sit at home and collect a check.
I had a client one time who smoked before I arrived for the session, had incense burning to try to cover the smell, so I did the session with him sitting there all glassy eyed, left and terminated any further training because nobody is going to cost me my business.
the BEST Solution, LLC
Adaptive Computer Training
& Web Site Design
**12. I feel like being quite preachy here, but as I think about it, I really think I have no right to be too hard on Marvin. I think that if Marvin is self-medicating with marijuana, it is likely that there are many things contributing to this, possibly including his thoughts and feelings about his blindness. Let's face it, this adjustment can lead to depression, especially if we are talking about someone whose very identity, which is probably very connected to the work he used to do but can no longer do, has been shattered. He might very much want to go back to work, but doesn't think he can. Furthermore, he seems stuck in a situation in which he doesn't get around much, thus limiting his ability to socialize in constructive situations. This in itself must be depressing as hell, so marijuana, to him, might provide a kind of relaxation and temporary let-up from these hard to deal with thoughts and feelings about himself. Let's face it, this is a rough adjustment for many, many people. At the risk of sounding corny, he needs compassion. However, compassion does not mean simply ignoring the drug issue and pretending it isn't there or isn't a problem, because it certainly might be a major problem. The very fact that he is smoking pot in what he should be regarding as a kind of professional or business meeting between client and counselor should tell you something. I am not saying here that the counselor should tell him to start attending Narcotics Anonymous or other twelve step meetings, although this may ultimately be the route Marvin might consider, but at the very least, Marvin needs to be made aware, probably at the next meeting, assuming he hasn't had a chance to get stoned yet, that using mind-altering drugs before or during their meetings is not acceptable. I think the counselor may in fact appropriately go further than this. He may point out that adjustment to blindness is very difficult and that people find a variety of ways to successfully handle this, but that there are other ways they can mutually discuss to make the transition easier. The counselor might, although this would be risky, let Marvin know that he would really like it if Marvin completely stopped using drugs altogether, and that if his attending meeting stoned continues to be a problem, said counselor may have to discontinue services until Marvin is ready to handle this issue. In fact, anyone can correct me if I am wrong, but I think the rehabilitation program may actually require that a blind or disabled client is not using illegal mind-altering substances. Counselor should also assure him that when he is ready, counselor will start working with him again and, in the meantime, should Marvin decide that he does want help with the self-medication issue, counselor will give him referrals to treatment facilities or support groups that might be helpful. This is very hard, because Marvin sounds like the kind of person who might become extremely defensive with this and thus give up on rehab services. However, this is something that may need to be risked by the counselor, and ultimately, Marvin may have to reach a kind of "bottom" before he is ready to acknowledge his drug dependence, which may take a while. When that happens, he may reach out again and then the counselor can discuss with him the blindness-related issues such as employment and mobility services.
Mark Tardif, Cleveland Ohio
**13. It could have been worse.
**14. Even if Marvin weren't blind, he's got problems that have nothing to do with that! From his actions, one can tell that he didn't get much practical guidance in his life; or, if he did, he ignored it completely. First of all, the fact that his counselor had to "repeat things" might simply be the result of an untrained ear. Mind you, I do not believe in "compensation." Blind people often insist that their hearing does not improve as a result. (In reverse: why do most deaf people need glasses?) However, sighted people do tend to be lazy hearers (i.e., they think they don't have to pay close attention to a lecture, because they can always read the textbook later). Secondly, Marvin sounded fairly confident about his "home skills," but his attitude is too careless. He claims, "I can still see most anything that I get right square in front of me." Maybe so; but these eye diseases have a way of being "sneaky-fast." Maybe he can see things in front of him today; but what about tomorrow? As soon as possible, he needs to learn where everything is by touch, sound and memory. I once met a guy who was legally blind, even with super-thick glasses. He also carried a cane. I guessed, correctly, that he could get by on his glasses alone, IF he walked in a familiar or empty room; but, if he had to go someplace unfamiliar, he wisely used his cane, not trusting his meager vision for a minute! Cooking is another issue that needs far more attention to detail than he's willing to admit! "Skills" and "microwaves" aside, there is still the matter of organization! It goes without saying that a blind person (to whatever extent) must learn how to organize his cupboard and refrigerator, so that he knows what he has, and where it is! If Marvin's not careful, one day he may reach into his refrigerator for a can of cake frosting, and wind up grabbing Crisco by mistake! (YUCK!) I suppose this would be just like "money-folding." I'm sure all of you learn your own little tricks; but, in some cases, a rehab counselor may have to point out this necessity. Thirdly, his careless attitude toward getting around town is totally foolish! At BEST, Marvin's recklessness is a self-imposed inconvenience that will spiral downward to total isolation. At worst, it is potentially deadly! Remember Mark, the guy in last month's elevator story? I'm sure he would give Marvin a few pointers before he breaks his neck! Fourthly, Marvin's got no drive whatsoever. "I don't want to lose my disability check," he says. What's up with that? If you don't work, you don't eat! Besides, a normal man, regardless of "ability" or "disability," WANTS to work, even if he doesn't need the money! (Some of the most miserable men around are retirees!) Remember that other story, about the blind guy who tried to fix his electric dryer? He knew better than to just sit around and allow himself to waste away from inactivity! I've read a number of real-life testimonies from newly-blind people who had to quit their jobs, but went back to school to learn a new trade. (One guy, a diabetic, had once been a graphics designer. After he lost his sight, he went to law school, and passed the bar!) Yet here's Marvin, sitting on his duff! He walks around "every three or four weeks," but not anywhere in particular. Any doctor will tell you that, if a man doesn't get up and about, his laziness will lead to health problems that are a lot worse than blindness! Finally, it didn't surprise me at all that Marvin is a pot-smoker. When I got to that part, I stopped, and went back to re-read the whole thing. It makes a lot more sense to me now! One thing I learned in High School I have never forgotten is this: drug users DO tend to be lazy, unproductive, unmotivated, unprepared, disorganized and careless! And it doesn't matter whether your drug of choice is pot, alcohol, cocaine, crack, or whatever. People who use that junk will share many of Marvin's habits, and none of them are good. Marvin hasn't long to live, unless somebody gives him a swift kick in the brains! You'd think that, with a "slow degenerative disease," he would have had at least enough sense to prepare for encroaching blindness. Even if he had only a year, normal human instinct would compel a person to start preparing, after getting over his initial panic; yet Marvin didn't even seem to have THAT! It almost seems as if he were WELCOMING his blindness, just so he could have an excuse to sit around smoking pot all day! (It makes me wonder how he got a job as a construction worker in the first place.) Yet, for all that, Marvin just brushes it off with the lame excuse that "We all do what works best for us." There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Marvin will break his neck, get hit by a car, die of malnutrition, or get lung cancer from his pot-smoking. Marvin is worse than blind: he is mentally unbalanced!
**15. I don't want to sound pious or judgmental; however, we all bear responsibilities for the way we lead our lives. I read recently in a Tony Hillerman book that the Navajo Indians believe that every thing has a consequence-even the flutter of a butterfly's wings causes a change in wind currents, no matter how minute. Marvin is a rather selfish guy in my view. He wants help, but he does not want to lose his disability check. He expects a rehabilitation specialist to be there, but does not have the courtesy to withhold his pot smoking which is illegal, if not harmful. He thinks nothing of putting you in harm's way, both environmentally and legally. I think that if I had been in your shoes, Robert, I would have informed Marvin in no uncertain terms that smoking tobacco was O.K., but that you would return on one more later visit after he had decided that pot smoking in your presence would not be done. I have never understood people like Marvin. They seem to relish disability!
Jim Theall Longmont, Colorado
**16. I imagine that if we compared the community of blind people with that of the general public, such behaviors might be able to be justified statistically. However, if the rather proactive approach is adopted that blind people must excel, (and I'm certain that many wouldn't adopt this concept), then the counselor has to get this guy out of the pity party he's so comfortable with. More time is needed and the strategies that usually need to be abandoned. Some kind of really active group of men who are successfully transitioning into capable blind people would be a good place to start. I know such groups exist, if even electronically.
**17. When I first became involved in rehab work I was a classic rescuer. I believed that if I just tried a little harder, talked a little more, answered every objection, I could rehab anybody. Well, after getting knocked around for a few years-I'm a slow learner-I came to understand that I couldn't rehab anybody. As a rehabilitation teacher I can offer information, I can provide skills training, and I can provide an environment that is conducive to success. But rehabilitation is not something I can do for you. It is a very personal, internal process. When rehabilitation occurs it is because you did it to yourself. So, good old Marvin is giving you a message. Marvin is saying that at this moment he is not interested in rehabilitation. You can hang around while he gets high, maybe getting some buzz of your own, but the meeting ended when he asked if you minded if he smoked. What I would do with Marvin would be to end the meeting. "Marvin, it's clear to me that you need a bit of time to think about what we've discussed today. I'm heading out for now, but you'll learn that I am very persistent. I'll be calling you shortly and we can continue our discussion." As far as the pot goes, I would not pay it any attention unless Marvin asked me if that was the reason I was suddenly leaving. I would take that opening to explain that I took this behavior as a signal that he was not interested in what I had to say, and perhaps at a later time he would be more open to exploring his options.
Carl Jarvis ACB-L listserv
**18. FIRST, I THOUGHT HE WAS TALKING TO HIM ON THE PHONE.
2ND, HE DOES NOT NEED help where he is using drugs. Why waste taxpayer dollars on person when known that he use drugs.
Thirdly, sound like he really does not want help. He will need to do some life changes before being given life changes.
Fourth where is he getting his money to buy the drug, where he got three checks uncash.
**19. Well now, I never had a reason to comment on one of these but I got a comment now.
I can't tell a lie to all you wonderful people but, as a good buddy of mine William J. Clinton once said "I might have experimented with Marijuana a time or two."
and all I have to say is the following:
What have been the difference if he was smoking a cigarette, or took a Prozac, or a Zoloft, etc?
Is it only not condemnable if its approved by the government? remember, Marijuana was a viable item for clothing, etc and yes even medical purposes before the 1940's.
Grant it though, I haven't touch any kind of drug for a long time, and there are good reasons for that, kids, etc but again I believe my question is valid. once I get an answer to my question I'll elaborate further.
Gabriel Vega ACB-L listserv
**20. I think Gabe has a point. For all we know the pot helped the guys eye condition. Would people feel better if the guy had made himself a stiff drink instead? If I was a young guy just losing his sight I'd probably have several joints. Randy
Kitty Litter ACB-L listserv
**21. Hey, since we're on the subject, I won't lie.. I tried it in college... I inhaled!!!
As one with glaucoma, I was able to skip drops occasionally. But, I had to quit as it was causing my problems in school. John Ross ACB-L listserv
**22. Hey Jessie!
Ever heard of the harm reduction model?
Andy ACB-L listserv
**23. Hi Gabe, Well, first off I wouldn't stay around if the fellow was smoking his clothes. But seriously, as a practicing rehab teacher, I've been in many homes under some pretty tough conditions. I'm very up front with folks. I never look down my nose or condemn people for their habits or life style, but I am not required to involve myself in them. A woman opened her apartment door and a blue cloud of smoke rolled out. That's how my wife described it. We asked if there were any other meeting places in the building. We did this in a way that did not insult her, and she took us to the activity room. Another woman's home smelled so strong of cat feces and human urine that Cathy could not stay for more than 5 minutes. I stayed for the intake interview but told her we would need to find another meeting place. She asked what was wrong with her home. I told her. She threw me out and would never meet with us again. Remember, I have as much right to look out for my well-being as they have the right to live their lives as they choose. The fact that pot is currently illegal doesn't factor into my thinking at all. In my wild, carefree, stupid youth I partook in an interesting variety of stuff that I'd never put in my mouth, or lungs today. But the fact that Marvin asked if he could smoke, and then proceeded to roll a joint, tells us a great deal about Marvin. My first thought is that Marvin brain. Another thought is that Marvin has a, "screw you" attitude toward the world. But whatever is going on, this would not be the day to get any productive work done. Did I mention the time my wife and I knocked at an apartment door and the gentleman we were supposed to see flung open the door and invited us in, without a stitch of clothing on? Cathy turned to me and said, "You'll need to see mister Blank by yourself today. He has no clothing on." She turned and went to a seating area down the hall and I entered and took care of business. All in a days work.
Carl Jarvis ACB-L listserv
**24. No doubt, the blind guy could use some philosophy training and life skills training. I, personally have been in a situation where the people I was around chose to smoke pot, and I did exactly what we advise our daughters to do, extricate yourself as quickly and gracefully as possible.
**25. Ottawa Canada
I probably wouldn't use my cell hone to call the police about the client smoking a joint, but would have told him that I would prefer it if he held off smoking until I had finished the appointment, as smoke of all kinds bothers me.
I would leave him my card, explain that he could contact me at any time during office hours and leave.
The guy needs to accept his blindness before he can be rehabilitated.
Brian Lingard ACB-L listserv
**26. Oo begin with, where do you all get that he was smoking pot due to his blindness, would if he was a pot smoker before he went blind or started to lose his site?
Gabriel Vega ACB-L listserv
**27. Ottawa Canada
I don't care why or what he wants to smoke, I would still ask him to wait until I have left.
My comment that he needs to accept his blindness is not based just on him smoking dope.
Brian Lingard ACB-L listserv
**28. She must have been from an earlier time. Nowadays he'd be in the back seat of a patrol car in three seconds flat. He obviously needed her help, but I would not have let him smoke cannabis in my office.
Ben from Arizona
**29. Although I suppose that there is an occasional person like the one portrayed, I'm not sure that showcasing this type of person helps your cause. Yes, it sends the message that the blind are just like the rest of society; some are good, some are bad, some are evil. However, I think that it points up the myth of the blind person who doesn't want to work. It perpetuates the image of the taker on society instead of the majority of people who honestly do want to work and to improve themselves. I'm not sure that this provoker actually did what you intended.
Ann K. Parsons Blind-X
**30. Ann, Aren't you assuming that there is an agenda here in what provokers are offered? If the object is to offer a scene to be commented upon mostly by the blind it would hardly serve anyone at all to only propose politically correct stories for commentary. Honestly, I suspect when we are thought about much at all by the world at large it is so filled with wrongheadedness anyway that such a provoker is unlikely to negatively effect anyone's prejudices.
Additionally, I would suggest that in this provoker in particular it is easy to misread the attitude of the newly blinded individual. He might be self-serving and exploitive in some sense but he might also be trying to paint a picture of himself in positive terms for the type of subculture he was part of initially. He could also be putting up a front to portray himself as ok with his situation and it need not be changed. That is not an uncommon response by some newly blinded individuals who are deeply disturbed by the very idea that he might have to face the world without his eyesight. Many individuals will do a lot of bluffing to convince others they are doing just fine when they are terrified and could not admit it to themselves.
Lisa Blind-X listserv
**31. I think that Marvin was not really interested in learning about what was offered to him. It seems like he is just going to decide if he really wants the help or not. He really needs an attitude change.
Rania ismail NABS-L listserv
**32. Seems that before he can get one, he needs to see what is available. I'd give him the opportunity to see for himself what is possible and let him decide then if this is what he wants for himself, straight up.
T. Joseph Carter NABS-L listserv
**33. The VA has embraced the harm reduction approach to substance abuse, which basically is an extension of starting where the client is. It doesn't mean that you have to give expensive devices or money to a drug addict, but it is a positive approach that says that rejecting the client, or saying that you won't engage at all until he or she stops doing what you don't want him or her to do serves no purpose. I opposed this approach at first, because it was different and outside of my frame of reference, but as time goes on, I am beginning to see its merits.
Andy ACB-L listserv
**34. Yes, Andy, I have heard of Harm Reduction model.
And Abby, very good point: instead of the monologue about services, it might have been a better time to find out what, specifically, the client wanted to learn. Or needed at that time.
Jessie ACB-L listserv
**35. I've read the other responses, but I am confused about some of them. Apparently, most of your readers tend to blame the counselor for something. I guess a blind person should have a different perspective on this, though I still can't understand what the counselor was doing wrong.
**36. I would be curious as to why he is smoking the pot. Does he live in some kind of pain? Is that just what he does? Is he trying to avoid the conversation? I would ask him these questions and tell him that I was uncomfortable with it and would have to leave if he continued to smoke. I would explain what services I could offer him and ask if he is interested, explaining that I am not able to assist him while he is using such substances. Also, do I have an obligation to report as a state employee? I really have no idea. I can't imagine reporting for that.
This is definitely a question of morality. As someone who lives with chronic unrelenting, horrible pain, I'd be smoking the stuff if I thought it would work, but I'm not. I think leaving won't do any good if the matter is not discussed first.
Sarah Gales ACB-L listserv
**37. Carl, I just love some of your stories. hahahahahaha.
I agree about learning to take care of yourself in such situations. Luckily I primarily see people in my office and smoking is not allowed. Many do not wash though and we often have to ask them to do so when it becomes a severe problem.
Cathy turned to me and said, "You'll need to see mister Blank by yourself today. He has no clothing on." She turned and went to a seating area down the hall and I entered and took care of business. All in a days work.
**38. I work for a state division of services for the blind and visually impaired. At a meeting once, a VR counselor told us about a fellow who came to her for assistance. He smelled bad and was generally poorly groomed. She told him he'd have to clean up his act if he were to expect to get services from her. She said, almost with pride, "I guess I told him. I never saw him again." Well, why are we in this business if it isn't to help people who need help? The fellow in the thought provoker smoked pot, which is slightly more illegal than smelling offensive, but he needs help very badly. I think the counselor shouldn't give up on this guy. (I am aware that what it boils down to is how many 26 closures you can get), but this guy needs help and it seems there surely is something the counselor can do. For instance, have the client come to the counselor’s office for the next visit. Perhaps have him take a tour of a facility which offers a program in the skills of blindness---even if it's not the best in the country, most states provide some kind of program don't they? Perhaps invite him to attend a consumer group meeting where he can meet some successful blind people. Then there are people who really do just want to get their disability checks and smoke pot. They are not all blind. But I don't think one visit is enough evidence to cast this fellow in that mold. give him a few more chances.
**39. Hi Brian, Actually, accepting his blindness is what I consider to be rehabilitation. Over the years I've known many blind people who believe that they have been rehabilitated because they've been through some program or another and trained in alternative skills. But their basic attitude about themselves as blind people has not changed. They become their own worst enemy. Because they lack confidence in themselves as blind people they constantly sabotage any chance of success.
Carl Jarvis ACB-L listserv
**40. I agree! When I was 18 years old I attend the Department for the Blind in Iowa's rehabilitation center in Des Moines. I was struggling with this blind word and everything that went along with it at the tie so when I went through the program I was not very serious about it. It took me many more years to completely accept the fact that I was blind and I am not going to move forward with my life until I accepted it. I finally did accept it and now I have many questions about how blind people do things and I look back at that 7 months I spent in the rehab center and ask myself what I learned during that time. Was it a waste of time? A person can not truly learn the skills of blindness until they are ready and able to accept they are blind. I feel coping programs and acceptance should be step one in the rehab process because without that important step that blind consumer will be just like me years down the line wondering why they can not function well as a blind person though they went through the rehab center.
Alicia ACB-L listserv
**41. If the acceptance of one's blindness is required before any rehab services begin, few people would receive services. Of course you have to accept your blindness enough to be available for counseling and service, but I'd think you could still be angry or depressed about it while you're learning how to get around and how to take care of yourself. Part of the acceptance, and certainly the self confidence comes from successfully coping with doing what you want to do as a blind person.
I disagree with some of you about whether or not the client in the thought provoker would accept anything from a rehab counselor. The counselor had a lot to do with why he got the response he did.
Abby ACB-L listserv
**42. Seems to me that acceptance and learning skills go hand in hand.
If you begin to learn how to accomplish things as a blind person, it boosts confidence and hope and that in turn helps the acceptance process.
Susan ACB-L listserv
**43. "Seems to me that acceptance and learning skills go hand in hand."
Logically this makes sense. And to some extent it is true. But we humans are complex, clever creatures. We can demonstrate great ability on the one hand and fall flat on our deflated ego on the other. What do you imagine happens when a newly blinded adult arrives at a training center and is told, "We will teach you all the skills you will need to return to a full, productive life". Naturally you jump at the chance. This is just what you're looking for. Now you will learn how to live as a blind person. As the training progresses and you begin getting the hang of it, you notice that deep down inside, in that secret place, you still don't see how a blind person can live a "normal" life. But your instructors, many of them blind, cheer you on, showing you by example how they can do it. But in that dark corner you know that this doesn't mean that you can. But you are driven to prove to these people that you can learn all that they have to teach you. And you want to work and make your own way in the world. You become a stand out student. A star. On completion of the Program you stride out of the Center with your head held high, beaming at your fellow students. You go home, close the door, pull down the shades and whimper.
Rehabilitation is much more than the teaching of skills. Of course that is part of the process, but it is actually the lesser part. Rehabilitation is an emotional transition, not an intelligent one. If it were that simple there would be no need for ACB or NFB, because we'd all be on top of our game. There is a great difference between saying, "I understand that I can live a full, productive life as a blind person," and saying, "I *know* that I can live a full life!" Rehabilitation is the transition from the head to the heart.
Carl Jarvis ACB-L listserv
I totally agree. I think that if there are more programs that incorporate peer support and counseling in with their rehabilitation programs that little dark hole in the hearts of those who are just not totally sure will get visited along the line. The only true way of dealing with that little voice in your head that says I am not sure how blind people can live active and productive lives is to be able to talk to a peer about your fears and concerns in a neutral, warm, and relaxing environment. I think that in a peer counseling program there are many perks and should go hand in hand with rehabilitation services and the learning of blindness skills.
Alicia and LD Vera ACB-L listserv
**45. Hi. Abby, I agree with you about the acceptance of one's blindness having little to do with rehab.
And I didn't mean to imply, if you thought I had, that in order for a person to be rehabilitated, they had to have accepted their blindness. But they do have to reach the point they are willing to accept help, or willing to accept that they can go beyond one point to the next into the realm of whatever rehab. has to offer. And I also agree that as a person gains skills and confidence, it goes a long way toward helping them accept their blindness overall.
Alicia and Carl have stated this quite nicely.
Jessie ACB-L listserv
**46. There seem to be some people, like Marvin, who either are too demoralized to face down their demons, or maybe they just don't want to do much of anything in the first place. Who knows? Only time will tell if he ends up making something out of his life, or just falling deeper and deeper into his own mess. Good luck to him. That's all we can do.
Paul Ruffner NFB NABS listserv
**47. Exactly so, Gabe. If I were using pot for medicinal purposes and you were in my home on business, I would explain why I needed to roll a joint at that particular moment. However, Marvin didn't do that. His actions cry out, "Pot Head" to me. Even if we feel that the Counselor did a rather clumsy job of setting up the intake interview, Marvin's behavior demonstrated that he was not ready to take on the hard work of rehabilitation.
Carl Jarvis ACB-L listserv
**48. I'm not a counselor and have no training there so can't comment on how the counselor should have acted. I do know that for me, having someone listen to me and address my concerns rather than their own agenda would be more effective. What I do want to comment on is what I'm hearing as a subtext of this discussion, and this can be summed up in the statement, "He has not accepted his blindness, thus he's not ready for rehab services yet." If I interpret this subtext correctly, it leads me to two questions. First, what does it mean to "accept one's blindness?" (in quotes) Second, if one assumes that there is a clear definition for the term "accepting one's blindness," then why does it automatically follow that one must have accepted his or her blindness before being able to be benefited by rehabilitative services?
Regarding the first question, the term "accepting one's own blindness" sounds to me like some sort of religious conversion, where one gives up the thoughts, feelings and dreams of a sighted person and accepts his or her lot in life as a blind person. It suggests a "one size fits all" approach, where the individual must accept some preconceived notion of blindness and then somehow be okay with it. In my own case, there are days when I accept my blindness, and there are days when I still rage against it. So have I accepted blindness? So if someone (say a newly blinded person) were to ask, "How do I accept my blindness, how would those of you who subscribe to the concept answer the question?"
Regarding my second question, why is it that Marvin (or anyone else, for that matter) cannot be provided help from the rehab system prior to his accepting his blindness? Isn't there some level of support that the counselor can offer to Marvin to help him get through this issue of blindness acceptance? Why does it have to be an "either or" scenario? Surely, it's true that Marvin won't probably be able to go very far until he's ready to do the hard work (as Carl put it), but to me that doesn't mean that he can't take baby steps with the counselor's help. Maybe it's getting a few things labeled around the house. Maybe it's getting a tape recorder and some books from NLS so that he can at least read. Maybe it's getting some counseling so he can explore his feelings and fears. True, these aren't obvious steps toward employment, but if this guy is really not ready to take that on, then they're probably the only steps he can take, and necessary ones for any hope of any future progress. I guess I'm reacting against what I see as an inherent problem of many rehab systems. Rehab seeks to get a person employable and employed, but it doesn't always deal with the whole individual or the real issues of blindness and barriers to employment, and in so doing, it also fails to meet its ultimate mission, despite its very best efforts and intentions.
Now regarding the pot, I could care less, but for me, it's not a moral or health issue. It is definitely a legal issue, and it's a definite hindrance to productivity, but to me, it's no different than any number of unconstructive behaviors, ranging from alcohol and smoking on one end to over eating, surfing the Net all day and watching TV in excess on the other. And if it were me--newly blind, afraid of what comes next, no hope and no idea how to make things any better--if that were me, and I could get my hands on a little mood altering weed, then I'd be right there with him. As for Carl's naked guy, all I can say is it takes all kinds, and the guy's lucky he had Carl, who strikes me as a bit less judgmental than some of the rest of us.
Ron Brooks Phoenix, AZ ACB-L listserv
**49. Ron: I totally agree with you. That is what I was trying to get at in my last post. I was not ready for rehabilitave services when they came plummeting at me like a freight train and I think that baby steps would have made things a lot easier for me. I was tossed from being a sighted teenager to being a blind adult overnight and I was devastated even the day that I went to the commission for the Blind in Des Moines. I feel there needs to be more in the way of coping resources and blindness specific information prior to entering a rehab center. I do not believe that, one should be held back if truly ready with these steps but I do believe that in some cases it would help get that person ready for the hard work of rehabilitation. We all know that rehabilitation is a difficult, emotional, and rewarding journey; however, if one is not ready to take those steps they will likely fall and find it difficult to get back aboard. When you look at the pot issue there are many people who use pot as a mood altering substance that helps them to cope with their day to day lives. Is it the right decision? Not for me, but who am I to judge what is right for another. At 18 years old if someone was to offer me pot I probably would have taken it because I was at the end of my rope and emotionally I was a wreck. I did actually drink more then I should have which was not the right thing to do either; however, it was the only thing I could do at the time. When put in a situation like that we need to all ask ourselves how could we best help this person deal with not only his blindness but the illegal use of a controlled substance. I think making the person more comfortable is the first step in helping this person.
Alicia02 ACB-L listserv
**50. It sounds to me like Marvin has more problems than just blindness. It sounds like he is suffering from depression, low self esteem, and is using pot to cover these issues. Marijuana is a depressant and is probably adding to the emotional problems that are already causing him problems. The first step for Marvin should be to stop using the pot and the second step should be to visit a doctor. There are a number of really good medications for treating depression now and a doctor could help him allot. He might also need some counseling but one thing is certain; he is not going to get a job and be able to take care of himself if he is using an illegal substance like pot. He will probably just sit at home, watch cartoons on TV, and never gain the motivation and attitudes that promote success. I also think that Marvin is probably in the company of some enablers. These are people who probably have the best of intentions but, either because they want to be kind or because they do not know better, they do everything for Marvin and do not make him take care of his own responsibilities. Marvin sounds like he probably has someone who cooks for him and cleans his house and brings him his groceries from the supermarket. He sounds like he doesn't go out much but, instead, has his friends over to smoke pot and watch TV. Marvin sounds like he probably has no money, no bank account, and will have nothing as long as he doesn't get the help that he needs and as long as his enablers keep doing everything for him. Marvin is probably capable of working and taking care of himself in some fashion but, because of the pot and the enablers and the emotional problems, he has decided that there is no hope for him and that staying home, smoking pot, and being an invalid are the burdens of his existence. My best guess is that; because of the depression, the low self esteem, the loss of hope, and the feelings of victimization, Marvin has decided that, since this is the life he has been given, he might as well do what he wants to do and just try to make it through somehow. He should be able to smoke pot because he is blind and the whole world is against his being able to do anything to help himself or succeed in any way; so what difference should it make if a blind person smokes pot; it isn't like he is going to be driving a car or anything. His enablers promote this kind of thinking because they have the same thoughts or either they just don't know what to do about it. Whatever the reason, Marvin has to wake up and realize that he is capable of helping himself by using the tools and services available to him. Marvin has to wake up and realize that the only person who can make his life better is himself and Marvin has to quit using illegal substances like pot. In Marvin’s case, blindness isn't the problem and neither is the pot, even though it is a contributing factor. the problem is that Marvin has untreated mental and emotional problems that have caused him to give up on his life. The depression and the low self esteem have caused Marvin to accept this position in the world like a prisoner and he has resigned himself to suffer this persecution because the world is unfair to the blind and there is no way out for him. Marvin is wrong about all of this but his mental/ emotional problems, his poor self image, and his poor outlook on life won't let him see it. The friends and family who have been Marvin’s enablers need to quit doing that and they need to try to help him change his life. If Marvin needs food or cigarettes or anything else, then they should only agree to take him to the store to get them; don't go to the store for him and buy them. They should talk to Marvin and tell him about the kinds of help that are available to him and they should encourage him to see a doctor about his depression. They might also try suggesting a counselor to help him sort out his feelings of low self worth and low self esteem. The final decision has to be Marvin’s and he will probably eventually realize that but, if his friends and family start making life a little harder for Marvin, then Marvin might start to realize that he can do more than he realized and he might even start to realize that, with the proper training, he can have a better life and can take care of his own responsibilities. In order to do this, however, Marvin is going to have to develop more maturity, responsibility, and find some kind of direction in his life. If he doesn't, then he will do the same things that he has been doing and continue to live the same way that he has been living. It is up to Marvin to make difficult changes to his life and way of living but the change in roles by his former enablers could possibly add to the speed of these decisions. For the time being, Marvin is very happy to be living this miserable existence in his little cave where his friends and his family bring him the things that he needs and do the things that he feels incapable of doing himself. Marvin has very serious problems with mental and emotional problems, substance abuse, and an abundance of self pity. These factors all add up to cause Marvin’s state of mind, attitudes toward blindness and the world, and also serve to make Marvin too lazy and unmotivated to get off of his pity perch and make the hard choices to improve his life. Everyone knows that making these kinds of lifestyle changes are not easy and no one ever said that life was always going to be fair but Marvin is not living up to his end of the bargain. His actions and attitudes are working directly against the rewards of life that he feels deprived of and, because of his problems, he will not admit that he is to blame. His friends and family do things for him and take care of him because they love him but, by doing the things that they do, they only reinforce his problems and promote his inaction. Marvin has to take responsibility for his life and he has to recognize his problems. He has to be accountable to himself for his actions and he has to be responsible and mature enough to hold himself to account. In short; Marvin has to realize what it means to grow up and be a man. He has to be mature, responsible, and accountable for his own actions and, he has to realize that the only person he is always going to be able to depend on is himself and that his actions and decisions affect the lives of all those around him. Marvin has to start considering someone other than Marvin and Marvin has to start developing a little bit of respect for himself and others. Marvin has to wake up and smell the coffee. Perhaps those who have served as his enablers will realize their mistakes or perhaps they will move away or come to some problem that prevents them from doing Marvin’s bidding but something is going to have to cause Marvin to sober up, examine his life, and do the difficult things that he is going to have to do in order to change his circumstances. Nobody is happy being unhappy but they do develop an acceptance of it. Marvin needs to drop the roach clip, turn off the TV, commit to doing everything he can to get the training he needs, and do the things that men do everyday to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families. Marvin has accepted the fact that he will never be anything because the whole world is for the sighted and he is a victim of the universe. Marvin has not accepted his responsibility to himself, his family, and his friends. Marvin has accepted his current position and has not accepted his mission to better that position. Marvin needs to change his attitudes and outlook on life and that means that Marvin has to treat his problems and grow up allot.
Harlon NABS NFB listserv
**51. A couple thoughts came to mind when I read through this thought provoker and its responses. First of all, regarding smoking and doing drugs. I have never experimented with any of these mainly due to health reasons, and I never want to. I also hate being around people when they are smoking. A while ago I had this conversation with a neighbor who is fully sighted. He had smoked for several years, and finally one day when he and I were hanging out together I broached the subject with him. I asked him nicely if he would mind not smoking around me. He was very cool about it, and never again did he smoke around me. As a matter of fact he has totally given up smoking. I think he chews gum now and wears one of those nicotine patches. At least that is what he told me when he first officially quit smoking. Another neighbor of mine still smokes, however, and let me tell you it is really bad. The good thing is, when she smokes in her car she always rolls the windows down.
Now to the guy in the Thought Provoker. I thought that what he did was, on the one hand, rather curt and done at an inopportune time. However, it is clear that he needs to get help. Perhaps that help shouldn't come from the VR counselor, but from a social worker and maybe a psychiatrist. Or perhaps these people could collaborate and come up with a viable alternative for Marvin, but they would of course have to bring Marvin in and meet with him before making the final decision. I honestly don't feel I have all the answers here since I don't really know what it is like being on those sorts of drugs. I know people who were on these drugs or who are still doing them, but I have never asked about their habit. However, as a former? rehab client who is extremely fed up with how things are done within the VR system, I can tell you that what Marvin did probably should not have been tolerated. On the other hand, I feel his counselor was wrong. She was wrong because she did not give him the opportunity to ask questions about the services he'd be receiving from the VR agency. This is the one major problem I see in VR, at least where those of us with a visual impairment are concerned. For instance, I was asked by the last VR counselor I had, back when he first started and was just getting used to things, what improvements I wanted to see. I specifically told him that I wanted better communication, i.e., I wanted him to return my phone calls in a timely fashion and I wanted to see my VR case at a faster pace in general. At the time this counselor said that he totally understood where I was coming from and that he would see to it that things improved. However, nothing really did improve at all. As a matter of fact, I ended up not hearing from anybody that he had been transferred to a different county within my state. This was a common theme with my case. It seems to me that the majority of VR counselors who are assigned to work with visually-impaired people, are not qualified to do so. They don't have a good enough grasp of our needs, both emotional and physical. I started to have this conversation with some neighbors yesterday. We were getting ready to go somewhere by car, and one of the neighbors told me that I needed to wear a different pair of shorts. I can assure you that this neighbor was very well-meaning, and she has in fact said to me before that she means well. But, I think this was a perfect example of what I have talked about here. Everyone's individual needs are different. If somebody needs help kicking a smoking habit, that's okay. If another person needs help knowing what clothes to where because they have never worked in the real world and are therefore unsure of what real success means, that's okay. What if I were butt-naked yesterday by the time my neighbor came down and was ready to go? I imagine I would've gotten some pretty dirty looks and, perhaps, some verbal scolding. It is not okay for VR counselors to run our meetings for us, simply because they are not the clients and we are. I agree that "agent" would be a much more accurate term for these so-called professionals. Perhaps Johnny Rivers had another point in his song "Secret Agent Man!"
**52. What's the problem? Marvin’s ship has finally come in. He is the winner in some type of perverted lottery. As he looks at his surroundings, he is content in the knowledge that life for him will be a long leisure filled holiday.
He his beginning to appreciate some of the many advantages of being blind.
In many ways, blindness promotes one to a higher status. One no longer needs to work. Like the wealthy, the blind are chauffeured from one location to another. With the right connections, meals are prepared at their command. Cleaning is something that must be done by others. The advantages are many, if you take the time to fully appreciate them.
A meaningful career isn’t for everyone. The satisfaction and self-esteem that come from a worthwhile occupation can be greatly over rated. Why knock yourself out.
Marvin’s got it right. Kick back; light one up and enjoy life.
**53. I have just completed reading the August 12th update and I cannot resist on commenting further than my initial response.
Immediately brought to mind was a book entitled "The Sound of Sight" written by a young man from a small Nebraska community who was accidentally blinded at age two or three, and who grew up with a complete support system of family, friends, the community as a whole, as well as state services. He was furnished tutors so that he could be "mainstreamed" in the public schools. He was given the same opportunity in college. His college roommate was his best friend from childhood who was also constantly by his side in high school. He brags about riding motor cycles, driving automobiles, and using trampolines, all good activities, except that in so doing, he endangered the lives of other people and certainly, while he is entitled to put his own life in jeopardy, he has no right to put anyone else in such a predicament. But the thing that enraged me, was his attitude at the end of his book on his "independence" and "skills", his complete rejection and criticism of the rehab systems and society in general because no one would give him a job in his degreed field as a Sports Administrator.
I am totally blind, not even light perception.
I did not actually count to obtain a ratio of anti-councilor vs. anti-client people, but I find it rather interesting that a large number of people, seemingly ACB connected, think that the councilor and that councilors in general are at fault.
I am here to say, that in my case at least, I have been dealing with councilors, rehab specialists, federal and state services for visually impaired, and private foundations as well. This has occurred since 1957 when I was diagnosed with RP and declared legally blind. The only time that I was dissatisfied with services was on a visit to a school funded by either NFB or ACB with a grant to a blind individual. The attitude of the entire staff was entirely "do it our way or leave". Their attitude was that there was no other way. Their canes were better. Mandatory learning of Braille was an absolute necessity. You absolutely had to use your cane when walking down the sidewalk back to your apartment because you should not let the sighted community think that you could see. Most of the clients attending the school were young adults, either completing high school or preparing for higher educational opportunities. Clients who broke the rules were chastised at the next group meeting which proved embarrassing for them and in my opinion, probably fostered resentment and rebellion. The administrators at the school were very critical of other rehab programs-theirs was the only way! After four days there, I chose to leave and look for other avenues of training and rehabilitation.
I think the State of Nebraska, who are lucky to employ one Robert L. Newman, has a great department for Services to Visually Impaired, and having attended rehab on seven different occasions with the Veterans Administration, I cannot say enough about the wonderful work done at these Blind Rehab Centers located throughout the country. I have been to Hines in Chicago, the BRC in Birmingham, Alabama, the BRC in Palo Alto, California, and the BRC in Tucson, Arizona. All training is one on one, and is geared to fit the needs of the client, although the basic mobility instruction and daily living skills are part of the program. The program is complete with psychological sessions, medical evaluation, etc, and I left there with confidence that I could do just about anything I set my mind to, given reasonable accommodation; however, because of the psychology sessions, I did not leave with the expectation that I could drive a car, or that I should be allowed to occupy the emergency exit row on an airplane, or other such nonsense. I use a huge array of power tools, including the Skill saw, a table saw, a lathe, a power miter saw, a drill press, power drills and screwdrivers, power sanders, etc, and believe it or not, use very few band aids! Marvin's career in construction is not at an end because of his blindness. If it is ended, it is because he refuses to make adjustments.
One more comment: I have never met a pot smoker who doesn't argue that alcohol is just as bad. Maybe it is, but guess what-alcohol is legal!
Visually impaired people need to get a life. Quit blaming society for your ills. There is a whole world out there to be enjoyed. You can sit in a corner and be miserable and make everyone around you miserable, or you can get on with your life and cope with problems just as everyone, blind or sighted, has to do.
Jim Theall, Longmont, Colorado
...FROM ME- I did want to comment here on an aspect of how I portrayed the counselor in this TP. That is, I did have in mind that this story could be used for discussion in a training program for various types of counseling degrees and I purposefully did create this professional to not be a shining example of "good counseling technique." So if we do have some folks zeroing in on the counselor, then let's see what people are seeing as his/her errors and what they say.
**54. I do not generally respond to email discussions of this nature, but I am intrigued by the presumptions and presuppositions that have been made here. I am curious as to why the majority of you are convinced that there is a correlation between smoking weed and the esteem of the blind client. Moreover, I am especially curious as to why at least one of you believes that smoking weed is somehow connected to depression or some other disorder.
For all we know, this guy has been smoking weed for the majority of his life and we definitely do not have anything to suggest that he was not a productive construction worker prior to losing his sight. Actually, it sounds as if he was a productive worker. Based on that alone, these strange presuppositions must fall.
As for the inadequacies of the rehabilitative system. I work within the legal profession and have little or no respect for busy body social workers whose only solution to any problem under the sun is to get the client on some type of medication or seek therapy for the client. In fact, more often than not, the client would not need therapy if he had not interacted with the social worker.
Finally, there was one lengthy dissertation that went far and away from the strange presuppositions and ended up being a tirade against hypothetical family members and neighbors and took an unreasonable amount of time to listen to.
**55. My best buddy has C/P and recently had a back operation and is currently in a rehab. It was the first time in his adult life that he's been with other people who are in the same condition he is, and some far worse. He tried to get through life by adjusting to the way non-handicapped people live, and it was a long and painful struggle. I'm sure many members of Thought Provoker are more than familiar with how insensitive the so called normal people can be. For my friend the experience has been bitter sweet. The operation he had has left him unable to walk, for now at least, but the other patients he's surrounded by have lifted his spirits and made him feel as though he was a part of a larger group that was like him. He'll eventually walk, he's a fighter, been fighting his whole life just for recognition. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to express my feelings.
Bill Heaney Philadelphia
**56. This is a horrible situation all around. The counselor should have been more in tune with where the client is coming from. However, not to defend her, but if Marvin did not know what services were available, how else should she have explained what services she had to offer at first? If she had asked what his needs are, he most likely would have said nothing, given his responses during the meeting. Secondly, maybe he mistakenly thought that pot would help his eye condition, like sometimes can happen with Glaucoma.
Shannon W. Cook, MSW
**57. I see a few problems with this situation. Firstly, and most obviously, Marvin is smoking pot. He's also trying to blame the fact that he is smoking pot on the fact that he is blind, and, though we can't know this for sure, he may have been smoking for years before he became visually impaired.
Secondly, the counselor did start out with a monologue, which isn't a great idea. I live in Nebraska, and we have a very active commission for the blind. Nebraskans have at least 2 different options for dealing with blindness and learning skills, and I believe this is true in other states as well. We can attend the orientation center, and that means that we are agreeing to do things their way. But Marvin wasn't the one who requested the services, and he seems to think that he is doing all right using his vision. He isn't really ready to admit that he is having problems, and the counselor isn't really making that any easier for him.
I think the best thing the counselor did was to offer to tell stories about other blind individuals and how they coped with different situations. He didn't just jump in and start talking, he offered. Maybe things would have gone better if that was how things had been presented from the beginning. But I do not think it is fair to blame the counselor for Marvin's lighting up pot. Marvin is his own person, and regardless of how the session was going, he made his own decisions.
Karen Anderson Omaha Nebraska
**58. The narrative does not indicate whether or not the neighbor asked Marvin whether he would be interested in receiving services from a rehab agency. Supposing that the neighbor did not ask Marvin, I think that the neighbor should have asked Marvin first before taking it upon himself/herself to call the agency and dropping Marvin's name into the pool of clients and clients-to-be. I really hate it when people do things like that without my knowing about it beforehand. Perhaps, that is why Marvin did not seem interested in the first place. If the neighbor had asked Marvin, Marvin could have either declined or gone for the idea.