A Day in the Life

Andrew Wyatt, age 21, 5-day residential student preparing to graduate

6-6:30am Andrew’s CNA greets him in the dorm. Morning routines begin—nursing unhooks his night-feeding tube, administers medications and water. CNA conducts activities of daily living and begins first tube feeding of day. Social time with his CNAs—talk about family news, his day’s schedule, lots of laughing. Time to relax with friends and TV in dorm room before school.

8:45 Class has brief morning check-in with teachers, then head to Functional Living Skills with Occupational Therapy Assistant Millie Connelly. Andrew’s education and therapy goals focus on preparing for life after graduation. Every day is big, with his entire team working to have him ready. Today includes riding a SEPTA bus to the University Museum. Second tube feeding.

11:00 Speech therapy with Tonya Johnson. Andrew works at becoming proficient with his DynaVox Vmax, a new communication device he got this year with a computer built in. It allows him to further his communication through email. Last summer Andrew attended a 2-week ASIS training program at Temple University, an intense device workshop that opened his eyes to options post-21. This year is about supporting all that he learned at Temple and his goals for life after HMS. Tonya has investigated the best vocabulary software package for Andrew’s communication needs and helps him build longer messages for clearer communication. Assistive technologist Dawn Rainey has helped Tonya program the computer for ease in accessing vocabulary.

Noon Tube feeding, socialize with other students and CNAs, joke around about this week’s American Idol episode.

1:00 Physical therapy with Anne Peregmon. Important goal this year is for Andrew to help trouble-shoot his wheelchair, alert a caregiver to a problem and how to fix it. Anne, Tonya and Dawn collaborated to program appropriate vocabulary in his device. Anne runs through potential problems with Andrew, and he practices communicating the problem. Also works with Anne on honing power wheelchair skills and trying out different head array.

1:45 Back in classroom. Andrew signals teacher, Kevin Rafferty that he’s having breathing difficulty. Kevin calls the nurse. CNA accompanies Andrew to nurses station for more detailed assessment. Andrew receives a nebulizer treatment for his asthma.

2:30 Andrew arrives late to art with Eiko Fan but has time to work on a painting project for annual Art Show.

3:15 Occupational therapy with Judy Lynch, further reinforcement of communication goals. They work on accessing the computer in his new device, teaching him how to make efficient interface between the DynaVox and the computer. Judy plans a home visit with Dawn Rainey to program Andrew’s TV remote control so he can independently control the TV with his device.

Day students leave for home—Andrew enjoys quiet time alone with OT.

4:00 Andrew heads to the residence, wants to get out of his chair and stretch. Enjoys some TLC from CNAs.

4:30 Walnut Street Theatre project for older resident students—learn about developing skit ideas and dialogue, adopting a role, creating costumes, rehearsing and performing. One of Andrew’s favorites. He loves socializing with visiting WST staff.

5:30 Dinner tube feeding; hang out in residents’ dining room with other students, CNAs, recreation therapists and nurses for relaxed “family time.” Catch up on everyone’s day.

6:15 Bath time with relaxing rub down, chat with CNA. Cruise halls in power chair, check out what’s going on and head to game night.

7:00 Daily conversation/video conference with Dad using the computer—talk about the day, nieces’ and nephew’s latest antics.

8:00 Andrew loves the activity of resident life and the relaxed pace compared to his long commute as a day student. Last night was wheelchair dance class, tomorrow night a hoedown with Peter Taney. But tonight he feels tired, leaves games early to relax in bed with a movie. Night feeding begins.

9:00 Dorm quiets down; CNA/nurse will check Andrew for respiration and repositioning on a frequent schedule throughout the night.