Ollie: A Model of Inclusion and Integration

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Narrator: Ollie was born in western Nebraska on August 10th, 1928. She was institutionalized in 1951 at age 23, shortly after giving birth to a baby girl. She was sterilized at the institution.

In 1956, Ollie was given the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale. Her I.Q. was placed at 67, full scale. Following a ten-year stay in the institution, Ollie was placed in a care home in Omaha. She has lived independently since 1972, and held a variety of jobs.

During this time, Ollie was married and divorced. She is currently retired but is very active in the self-advocacy movement, Ollie lives in her own home where she rents rooms to two other people.

Narrator: Ollie's team members currently include herself; her service coordinator, Nancy; her advocate, Janet; and her friend, Deena.

Friend: There was a psychological report done and it was done in 1956, and in that report it states that Ollie would never be able to live on her own, would never be able to take care of herself or anyone else, that she didn't have the skills to have a home. And I tell people now that she held a job for 17 years in the community. She has her own home that was built for her. She has learned to do all of the housekeeping skills, cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, and besides that, she also has two individuals who are living with her that she makes meals for, she takes care of. So things that took place clear back in the '50s, you know, and putting limits on people, she has proven – and a lot of this is through her own – her own self-advocacy, it's advocating for herself saying, "Yes, I can do this and I can prove you wrong."

And one of her favorite sayings is, "If you make up your cotton-pickin' mind, you can do anything." And that pretty well sums up who Ollie is because she makes up her mind to do something and she follows through, and that's her whole life

Ollie: All my life, been build up, happy. You see me to today, you see me to be same old Ollie today. You know that. You don't know now, baby you never met no...

Ollie: Yes, it’s my own home, paying the house with and everything else. My house went, went up and everything. I pinch-in my pennies and stuff like that.

Unidentified speaker: And you take care of the house? Or do you have Yeah I… take care… I… I...

Ollie: I done do – well, yeah, I take care of the house myself. Me, and Joyce sometimes will help me and everything if I can get her to help me.

Friend: Some of Ollie's limitations come from her independent living skills, and some of that may be what we see as limitations for her versus what she sees as her own limitations. It may come back to little bit about her housekeeping skills. Some of us may say to her, "Gee, Ollie, you have people coming, you might want to straighten up your living room," where she sees that as, "Hey, it's my living room and this is my house, and I'm going to" – which is a strength, and a weakness, or a limitation.

So some of those limitations may be what we see and not what Ollie sees as her own.

Service Coordinator: As far as budgeting, we work together and I explain on a monthly basis what we need to do to keep things in control.

Okay, Ollie, take a look at the old checkbook and see how you're doing.

Ollie: I'm just doing just fine. It's just I ain't got no money in the bank.

Service Coordinator: None of us do. Good. She – you've recorded everything perfectly.

Ollie: Uh-huh.

Service Coordinator: check numbers, dates, amounts, that's very good. I would try to be a little more careful in who you write them to.

Ollie: Okay.

Service Coordinator: I know most of them go to Bakers. Then, in your mail, this statement is how much that you took in, in the way of rent, and in the way of food, for Howard and Joyce.

Ollie: Yes.

Service Coordinator: Okay. That's on the plus side. And this is your insurance bill for your house.

Ollie: Yep.

Service Coordinator: And you pay that automatically out of your bank account.

Ollie: Uh-huh.

Service Coordinator: With the help of that government loan.

Ollie: Uh-huh.

Service Coordinator: Okay? And then did you take care of N.U.D. yet?

Ollie: Not yet.

Service Coordinator: You just got that one.

Ollie: Not yet.

Service Coordinator: Okay.

Ollie: Not yet. I had to wait 'til I got money in the bank.

Service Coordinator: Okay. Then we'll put money in the bank tomorrow on the way down to dropping you off to go to the convention.

Ollie: It went down, thank goodness.

Service Coordinator: Right. That was a good break for ya.

Ollie: You ain't whuppin', babe.

Service Coordinator: And we have a doctor appointment next week, Dr. Stern, for a checkup.

Ollie: And then… it's a new year, remember?

Service Coordinator: Yeah, right, right. New year.

[ Laughter ]

Ollie: New year.

Service Coordinator: Then, let's see. What else?

Ollie: My eyes.

Service Coordinator: Yeah, and then we got to get you up to church for that monthly meeting with your – your volunteer work.

Ollie: Yeah. Mrs. Peables and truck.

Service Coordinator: Yeah. And I'll give you a ride up to friendship club today, so you can get to work, okay?

Ollie: Okay.

Service Coordinator: Is there anything else you need done?

Ollie: That's it. I don't know what else to do and everything. I got everything in good hands and everything.

Service Coordinator: You do a good job.

Her biggest limitation is health, and Ollie has an obesity problem. She's trying to work on it but it's very difficult for her, and she is also a chain smoker. We've done everything we can, and the doctors encouraged her to stop the smoking and better diet and get more exercise, but Ollie has to make her own mind up, and at this point she's just not ready for that.

She serves in a volunteer program for senior citizens with disabilities, and that's how she became involved in the friendship program. Ollie just loves people, she loves to help. She has a heart of gold. Her knowledge of community resources is incredible. She knows who to call, when to call, how to get there. Different modes of transportation she has access to. People she can call for help.

Friend: Ollie is a very strong self-advocate, Ollie, when she knows she wants something, will do everything in her power to get it. That's probably her biggest strength. She will then try and contact everybody she knows and try and solve a problem by herself.

Right now, she is taking classes and is learning how to read and write, so that's now becoming one of her strengths that she is applying to her life.

She – as a self-advocate, speaking out for herself, that's great, but many times she is very stubborn and won't listen to advice that other individuals might give to her. You might say, you know, "Gee, Ollie, if you would do this, it would make it a little easier." And she sometimes tends to ignore that and go her own way. Very often, if someone is giving advice, she sees it as them trying to tell her what to do, and so she'll totally ignore what they're saying, and try and make up her own mind on what she'll do, and sometimes she'll have to come back and apologize and say, "I should have listened to you," and all of that, but more strengths than anything else. She's – I think, in her whole life.

Ollie is involved with Project II, and Project II is a self-advocacy program that teaches individuals with disabilities how to advocate for themselves. She has been involved with Project II since 1975 in various different ways, She's been president, vice president, past president, just has always been a leader of the program.

Project II has – I've personally been involved with Ollie through Project II for about 12 years as their advisor. They meet every Friday night here locally, doing various different things in anywhere from a issue and topic night that discusses things that will assist them through their own lives to social and recreational activities which can be dinners, parties, dances, that will give them the opportunity to be involved.

Some of Ollie's biggest supports are members of Project II who have been with her since the organization – since Project II has started. She will call up individuals she's – there's one individual she plays cards with, and they're just best friends. They tease each other. He's always there.

Her daughter, Nancy, is just a big support of hers. She has her service coordinator who supports her in some limit – you know, some limited support, is usually there when she has a big problem.

Ollie has been involved in the self-advocacy since 1975. She is very popular as a speaker, has traveled across the United States. She has talked in various different capacities with different people on self-advocacy. She – she usually did it with another person and she usually had a – an individual there that would ask her questions. She has also been to England at an international self-advocacy conference and discussed her life and how self-advocacy has assisted her in her life. In some cases, Ollie has had standing ovations when she has been – when she has finished talking, her speeches. She also has a new person in her life who goes grocery shopping with her and helps her as far as making menus and making nutritious menus, and then going grocery shopping with her. And her name is Margaret.

Ollie: Diet pudding. That was really good.

Margaret: Since May, I've been helping Ollie get groceries, and we meet like maybe once a week or sometimes twice – twice a month. It just depends. Ollie has a busy schedule and I have a busy schedule, and so it's – the good thing about this is it doesn't have to be like, say, every Tuesday. We're flexible and work with each other. And then sometimes if I – if we haven't gone for a while, she'll call me and she's like "I need groceries," right?

Ollie: Uh-huh.

Margaret: When we plan a menu, I'm always trying to have Ollie eat more vegetables and fruits, and, of course, Ollie loves fruit, that's not a problem, but it's the vegetables we have a problem with. I try to have her eat more lettuce salads, but she also has two other people that live here in the house and so she has to prepare meals for them, so it's hard to make a meal that they like, also, and that's what Ollie always complains about.

She always says that Howard and Joyce won't eat those vegetables and so she's got to kind of somehow camouflage them in her meal planning and making meals.

[ Indistinct Conversation ]

Ollie: Some people like my house … Oh I see.

Margaret: She's kind of like everyone else is on this fast-paced scale of living and doesn't have time to make a lot of meals. Like she'll say, "Tonight I want to make something fast" or "I'll have soup, a can of soup," because she doesn't have time like everyone else, you know, we're so busy, on the go.

[ Indistinct Conversations ]

Ollie: Sometimes the people said handicaps can't do anything, but I show 'em. show 'em a dozen times, them said I can't take care of myself and I can't take care of people. I think I'm doing my own stuff today.

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Narrator: Ollie reflects the multi-dimensionality of mental retardation. Although she is a person with mental disabilities, she has strengths and limitations in each of the dimensions, and is currently receiving ongoing supports in the areas of home living and financial assistance.

Thus, Ollie is an example of the intended outcome of the 1992 AAMR definition, classification and system of supports – full community integration.

The supports that Ollie receives aren't pulled off the shelf. Activities and levels of intensity are tailored to fit her individual needs, taking into account all that is going on in her life at that specific point in time.

The outcomes for Ollie, Joseph, Joe, McKenzie, David and other individuals with mental retardation represent not only a new way of thinking, they are actually transforming our vision of the possibilities open to people with mental retardation.

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