If you're ever up West Orange way, we'd love to have you stop by. I can't guarantee any refreshments or entertainment (although we often see deer and wild turkeys from Neil's window), but there'll always be a grateful parent or two and a really sweet young man who will be happy to see you.
Let me give you an idea of what typically goes on in Neil's day, so you can plan your visit accordingly. Neil gets up and dressed around 8:00 for breakfast in his room at 8:30. Then it's off to Physical Therapy at 9:00 where they work him hard--lot's of walking and stair climbing, some kneeling, a little wheelchair practice, color recognition, object manipulation, and so on. By 10:30 when he's done he's pretty tired, so it's back to the room to chill out for about and hour (Nerf dart shooting, anyone?) Speech Therapy is in Neil's room at 11:30, usually. Lunch is at Noon. Occupational Therapy begins at 1:00. OT is usually more of the same as PT, although sometimes they have him work on putting on a shirt, or answering a phone. (How do you answer a phone when you can't speak? Just asking.) He's done by 2:30 and he's exhausted.
At that point, the afternoon is usually ours. Sometimes we do our own massage therapy to give Neil a chance to relax a little. He loves it. We often take walks around the grounds. We'll hand him rocks to throw from his chair or give him a stick to hit stuff with. (And no, we don't hit the deer or turkeys.) You're welcome to join us. There are plenty of rocks and sticks to go around.
Dinner is served around 4:30 or 5:00. If it's too cold after dinner for another walk, we sometimes go the the second floor for some air hockey. Neil is getting pretty good considering he's still in a wheelchair and only has one usable arm. Care for a match?
By 7:00, the day is winding down. Back in the room, he might try a little TV, but his poor vision and short attention span make that a brief activity. We often work on reinforcing what he did in therapies--flash cards, puzzles, conversations about what day it is and where he is, asking him questions and listening for his quiet answers. He starts getting ready for night time around 7:30 or 8:00, so you may find him in bed if you come that late, but he won't be going to sleep until about 8:30.
Weekends are all ours. Except or one short (45 minute) therapy and his regular mealtimes, Neil is free to visit any time.
At the risk of making this post too long, I do want to let you know what you might expect from Neil if you come. You could be surprised that he may not look at you. Focus and attention remain an issue, and his vision is still a problem. When you talk to him, feel free to ask him questions, but be prepared to listen closely for his answers. He whispers very softly, and it can be hard to decipher what he is saying. Don't give up. When he gets frustrated, he'll often just give a key word that can help you figure it out. For instance, shortly after Scott and I had a discussion with each other about Scott's finding the directions to visit our friends Glen and Regina, Neil tried to tell me something I couldn't understand. After several futile attempts, he finally just whispered, "GPS." I didn't realize he had been listening to our conversation, and he was offering the use of his GPS!
Here's a link to our place:
Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation
1199 Pleasant Valley Way
West Orange, NJ 07052
William Stone is in Room 3024.
Past the Information Desk you'll see elevators on the right. Go to the third floor. Turn right at the nurses desk and proceed to the locked double doors. Push the button on the wall and wait until they buzz you in. Please knock if the door is closed.