Chapter 1: Early Life
17:10:45:15 - 17:11:18:17
Lisa: My name is Lisa Sonneborn. I'm interviewing Karen Hayes at the Arc of Chester County on September 26, 20... September 27th, pardon me, 2013. Also present is videographer Paul Van Haute and Karen, do I have your permission to begin the interview? Thank you. First Karen, can you tell me your name and your current occupation?
Karen: My name is Karen Hayes and I'm not sure what you mean. What does that mean?
17:11:18:20 - 17:11:36:19
Lisa: What kind of work do you do?
Karen: I work at the mall. I clean tables and sweep the floors.
Lisa: Do you do any other kind of work?
Karen: I'm on the self-determination board of the ARC of Chester County.
17:11:36:25 - 17:12:17:18
Lisa: Thank you. Karen, we're going to start our interview by talking a little bit about your early childhood and your family, if that's okay and firstly I'm wondering if you can tell me when and where you were born.
Karen: I was born in Lynchburg, Virginia and I have two brothers and one sister.
Lisa: And what year were you born?
Lisa: Thank you and did you grow up in Lynchburg?
Karen: I don't remember that. I was too young. I don't think I did. I think my parents traveled a lot because my dad was in the war.
17:12:41:10 - 17:13:01:24
Lisa: Karen I'm wondering if you can tell me a little bit about your parents starting with your mom.
Karen: My mom, when she was young, she was a model. She liked to model and my dad was in the army.
Lisa: What are their names?
Karen: My mom's name is Jacquelyn and my father's name is Thomas.
17:13:05:20 - 17:13:20:17
Lisa: You said that your dad was in the army and a little bit earlier you said you moved around a little bit.
Karen: We did. We did move around a little bit because we were all born in different states so my father liked moved around a lot.
17:13:21:10 - 17:13:39:12
Lisa: When did you finally move to Pennsylvania?
Karen: I don't remember that. I don't remember any of my childhood so much. Who knows anything about their childhood; it's very hard. You don't really know, you know?
17:13:41:10 - 17:14:24:04
Lisa: Well one thing I'm sure you know about your childhood is whether or not you had siblings?
Karen: I know I had siblings because I grew up with them so I know that. I know I have brothers and sisters.
Lisa: Can you describe them for me? Maybe tell me their names and ages?
Karen: Kathy I think is in her mid-sixties, probably like 63/64. My brother is like maybe 56 maybe I think and my other brother is like maybe 68.
Lisa: So where do you fall in the birth order?
Karen: I fall like in the middle because he's the youngest boy in the family so.
17:14:24:10 - 17:15:43:21
Lisa: So Karen can you describe a little bit for me, about your relationship with your parents when you were a child?
Karen: I guess I was fine with them. Sometimes they went, you know like, I was the only child one with a disability so it was very hard because my sisters and my family didn't really respond me as a disability because they never used to do any you know like they used to pay me no mind but now they're paying a lot more mind because my parents had a place in Kiowa, South Carolina when they were young cause they used to go down there and they never used to have me down there until when they moved to Naples and I started going down with them. I started going to Naples and being with them for the winter months, you know like during the summer, and December and stuff like that. They used to pay me no mind. They used to always like to go down south because they don't like the winter. None of my family does.
Lisa: They're all snowbirds?
Karen: Yeah. Kathy... Tom doesn't mind because he's in Ashford, North Carolina but Kathy goes down there in the winter month but she's doesn't mind the winter too much but she likes to go down there too and just be with her.
17:15:46:10 - 17:16:04:12
Lisa: I know it's hard to recall a lot of specific details about your early childhood because when you're that young it's a little hard to remember the specific details but when you look back would you describe your childhood as a happy one?
Karen: Yeah. A happy one.
17:16:05:15 - 17:16:50:10
Lisa: How would you describe yourself as a child? What kind of child were you?
Karen: I think I was a nervous child because like my parents, you know... I would always do something with my sisters but I'd get mad because they were driving me cuckoo. My brother used to be a big fat tease. That's the way he was. My youngest brother always likes to tease me and always get me into trouble. If something happened he would say oh Karen did it. I would say no I didn't, you did it. He used to tease me a lot. That was my youngest one. He loved to tease me.
17:16:51:25 - 17:16:58:07
Lisa: Do you have a favorite memory from your childhood?
Karen: Not really.
17:16:59:05 - 17:17:30:11
Lisa: Karen you had said you were the only person in your family who was born with a disability and I wondered if you could tell me how would you describe your disability? What is it? How does it affect your day to day life?
Karen: It doesn't really affect me on a day to day life because I'm actually not... I get my numbers backwards. I'm not very good arithmetic person so that's what my disability was but other than that I'm pretty smart.
17:17:33:10 - 17:17:55:06
Lisa: Was the disability that you describe apparent to your parents' right away from the time you were born?
Karen: Probably because I actually thought, I used to get... you know how you used to go to like psychiatrist? I used to have to go to the psychiatrist when I was younger. I don't know why my parents took me there.
17:17:56:10 - 17:18:09:15
Lisa: What did the psychiatrist tell your parents about how to best support you?
Karen: They told me I would never be able to do things for myself. I would never be able to live on my own and that kind of stuff and they were wrong.
17:18:14:25 - 17:18:37:02
Lisa: So Karen when your parents heard that from psychiatrists when they said that you would not be able to live on your own how did they react? What did they do?
Karen: They were surprised. They gave me a lot of medication and stuff like that to try to make me not so nervous but I don't remember that.
More Interview Chapters
- YOU ARE HERE: Early Life
- Education/Living at St. Mary's School
- Living at Camphill at Kimberton, Early Self-Advocacy
- Self-Advocates Address Safety Issues, Institutions
- Living in the Community
- Work with the Arc of Chester County, Advocating to End the Use of the 'R' Word
- Waiting List
- Reflections on Life, Work
About Karen Hayes
Self-advocate, Self-determination Board Member, Arc of Chester County
ARC, Chester County, Institutions, Pennhurst, "R" word campaign, Self-advocacy, Speaking For Ourselves