Chapter 8: Lack of Opportunities Post-secondary School
14:20:10:06 - 14:24:35:11
Lisa: I wanted to go back, um, to Graynle's experiences immediately after high school. Was there something...
Dr. Edwards: Oh there was a real gap. A real gap, and that's where my sister, God bless her... She really stepped to the plate. Sonya, my sister, was a homemaker. She didn't work. Uh, but she did not have to allow Graynle to come to her house while we were at work. And, uh, that's what used to happen. I would put Graynle in the car and shoot down to... Mt. Airy, and West Philadelphia, drop him off, and then (smacks hand) scoot over to Norristown. The, uh, Norristown where I was a principal of a middle school. And so far about a, let me see... about the time he was 22, 25, or 26, my sister was basically the daycare worker for my son for about a four year period. And, uh, then, uh... I mean you're talking about a stroke of luck. By this time I'm now the principal of New Brunswick High School and I used to make the run again from Germantown to West Philadelphia and then shoot up the New Jersey Turnpike to New Brunswick, so our day would start around 5:30 in the morning. By 6 o'clock I'm on the road to West Philadelphia. I had to be in New Brunswick by the very latest twenty of eight. At the very latest twenty of eight. And, uh, I was able to pull that off because of my sister. So one day, I'm on my way to New Brunswick after dropping off my son. I decided I'm gonna stop off at McDonald's and get a coffee and a, uh, uh... egg sandwich of some sort. So I get my coffee and I'm on my way out, went to my car, suddenly a lady says "Mister... are you going to New Jersey?" I mean this is really strange. I said, I said "yes." "Are you going near New Brunswick?" I said, "In fact that's where I am going." "Can I get a lift?" I'm saying no way, this is - I'm not sure I can handle all of this that's going on right now. But then I thought she looked like she was in need. I said, "Yeah, come on, let's go." As we're driving, she says "My daughter goes to Rutgers and I have to drop some things off for her today - this morning." I said, "You're in luck, because I'm going right next door to Rutgers, you know, right over there to Piscataway You know that's right next door to - in fact, you can leave New Brunswick and not even know you're Piscataway. Okay? I said "Okay." So I drove her to the dorm, right up to her daughter's dorm and went to school. But at the same token, I had shared with her I was trying to get my son into some kind of workshop and, uh, having a lot of difficulty. Well she worked at, uh, the, uh, West Philadelphia's Elwood Center. Do you know about a month later, I got a call from JEVS, says "Graynle can enter?" Call it providence. I mean, you couldn't write a script like, you know, to prowl out something like that. But that's how it happened.
14:24:35:11 - 14:25:54:07
Lisa: If that hadn't happened, what would Graynle have been doing?
Dr. Edwards: Been on a waiting list. Yeah. He was on a waiting list for about four - between three to four years, yeah. It was a waiting list to get into a program. Yeah. So I don't know what she did, but she did something that was very affective. Never saw here again to this day. If someone said, "What was her name?" I couldn't help you. Could not help. I don't know who she was. She may have been angel (laughs). Haha, that's right. You didn't believe in angels before, you might want to start believing in them now (laughs).
Lisa: So Dr. Edwards, tell me a little about what Graynle did when he got to JEVS. I mean did the work - what kind of work was he doing? Would he benefit financially from it?
Dr. Edwards: It's a funny story. It's really a funny story. When he got to JEVS, they said, uh, "Jevs has not been the same since he got there." 'Cause he's a social butterfly. He didn't talk at all - not at all. But he has a way with communicating with people. And they just loved him. He just kind of lights up a place. Yeah, yeah, yep. Could not speak for one clear English word. But his way that he interacts with folks, it takes about (snaps fingers) that much to get a smile out of him. Okay, so he had a work station and, uh, he would spend a little time with his work station with a zillion prompts - you know, you gotta do this, you gotta do that. And then it wasn't long before he's up from his work station, he's going to different people's work stations. He's not doing other things but socializing. And that went on for a few years. And uh, I used to always laugh when he brought his little paycheck home. Every two weeks he got a paycheck. One-twenty nine. One dollar - twenty nine. Two-twenty. The big check was like three something. That was the biggest. And I used to always tease him about it - "They make more money in Russia than you do, buddy. You know what I'm saying?" (laughs). So it was, we used to have a big joke about that. So he spent several years in the workshop until they reconfigured their program. Uh, they decided that they were going to emphasize world of work experiences for those individuals who could in fact go out in the real world and work with - they had to work - some individuals went to a continuous workshop program but many went into what you'd call world of work experiences with coaches. And uh, given Graynle's tendency to do little to no work, they decided they think Graynle needs to go to a social program and, uh, we agreed. And, uh, he's been enjoying himself ever since.
14:29:17:00 - 14;31:49:18
Lisa: I know parents had very strong feelings often one way or the other about workshops and I wondered ultimately where you came down on that?
Dr. Edwards: Yeah, yeah, yeah... The, uh... I could see that the work was monotonous. Ain't no question about that. And for someone to survive in that environment, um, they really had to want to be there to be successful. And there were some clients that were successful. They were really hard workers. But for someone whose, uh, tendency is to move about, socialize, that was, that was not a good place for him. In fact, he eventually, his job eventually became one of taking the trash bags around from one station to the next and I'm not sure whether it was to discard - I'm sorry, were they supposed to place products in the bag or just trash in the bag? I think it was trash. And, uh, he did that, of course, but he had to have an escort. Someone had to escort him to make sure that he did was he was supposed to do. Uh, that might have been his most productive work. You see, but uh, in terms of his own willingness to engage in that kind of work it just wasn't there. Just didn't want to do it. And, uh... and there were enough individuals who were trying to get him to perform. And of course one of the staples of the kind of work where Graynle was the prompts. You had to do the prompts, do the prompts. And with the prompts he would perform up to a certain point. Then he'd reach a point where even the prompts wouldn't get him to—to perform. So to suspect over a five hour period Graynle was going to be productive for four and a half or four of those hours, it just wasn't gonna happen. It did not happen. So we came to the conclusion that the social program may be the best for him, you know, given the fact that he's a social animal (laughs).
More Interview Chapters
- Childhood and Family
- Dr. Edwards as a Student | Professional Aspirations
- Birth of Graynle, Jr.
- Graynle Jr.'s Educational Experience
- Impact of Disability on Relationships
- Graynle Jr's Education and Impact of Least Restrictive Environment
- Joining a Community of Advocates
- YOU ARE HERE: Lack of Opportunities Post-secondary School
- Dr. Edwards Advocacy for Children and Adults with Disabilities
- Challenges for Parents Today
- Relationship with Graynle Jr. and Reflections on Advocacy
About Graynle Edwards
Parent, Adjunct Professor in Environmental Sciences, Lincoln University
Fathers, Education and Least Restrictive Environments, PARC, Parents, Employment and Workshops, Waiting List