09 October, 2012


When I worked in an institution I was afraid that I secretly liked institutions.

I was afraid that I liked the fact that I had a very specific job, that I would get told off for even trying to plunge a toilet myself instead of calling the person whose job it was to do that. I was afraid I liked all the alarms and call lights that worked in the same way, the small number of kinds of beds where once you knew how to operate a few of them, you knew how to operate them all. I was afraid that I liked every bathroom having the same color washcloth and the same brand of shampoo.

Obviously I am Autistic so on the surface some of this makes sense, but it's also something other than that. I was worried how deep staff infection went and worried that scheduled lives had started to seem normal to me.

I've been working in "home care" for a few weeks now and it's definitely hard for me to have to do stuff other than physical support when I have trouble cooking and cleaning for myself. But it's incredibly worth it.

I don't think I had really thought about the distinctness that a person's own home has. Not just the space but the way they do things, and how their ways and the space interact.

I love messy rooms full of dirty dishes, tables of grandmotherly objects like wind-up Easter rabbits and Christmas trees that are up all year. I love obsessively organized rooms too, with labels on everything. I love getting to work with someone who hasn't been moved across the long term care hall to a different room with a different stranger, but is living in the house where she raised her kids.

I feel very cheesy describing it this way but it does feel like my function is to be part of the machinery that helps someone keep being themselves, and that's really exciting.