As the new decade begins, peoples’ minds are actively anticipating upcoming events, for instance, presidential elections, NASA’s plan to land on Mars, the Summer Olympics, Brexit and more. This is also a year of firsts and lasts for everyone. In 2020 I am starting my first year of college, and my sister of special needs Joanne will complete her last year of school.
College is a big step in anyone’s life, and I truly believe that everyone will end up where they are meant to be, thrive and grow as a person. However, the uncertainty of where I will end up and making that decision gets me impatient and anxious. There are so many different factors to take into consideration and it is hard to decipher which factors are more important than others. Nevertheless, I am also excited to start this new phase and see where my journalism path takes me. I plan to major in journalism and even though I will miss writing and editing for Common Sense I also cannot wait to see the ways I can get involved in reporting as a college student.
Family wise, I also worry a little. My sister Joanne, a.k.a JoJo, is fully dependent on all of us; she needs to be taken care of 24/7. My mom, dad, little brother named Bill Jr. and I usually try to take turns in caring for JoJo, so we can give each other time for ourselves. When I go to college, that leaves my parents and my brother more work with JoJo.
I particularly stress for my brother Bill. We always help each other in everything regarding JoJo and he might have to support my parents more this year. Nonetheless, what calms me is knowing my parents will not put too much pressure on him. I also know that he is mature (even more than me at times), and he will know how to handle it.
I will also miss my sister, and it also breaks me that since she is deaf/ mute and has the cognitivity of a toddler she will not understand why one day I won’t be there having breakfast or playing with her. Nevertheless, my dad always tells me “one must always follow their visions and dreams, everything will eventually get figured out one day at a time.”
The 2020/2021 academic year is also the last year of school for JoJo. People of special needs can stay in an educational system until the age of 21, then they are moved into the adult social support system. My parents have to meet with Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery County Developmental Services to see what kind of program JoJo will fit best in. As I have explained before in other columns, many who are of special needs are kids at heart. Joanne for instance has always had a very young soul and she probably will always have one; it is part of who she is. Families who have children with special needs have to go through this process, which is just as nerve wracking as choosing your future college. That is why it is important for JoJo to enjoy her last year of school while my parents also find a program where JoJo can be her playful self.
I have no answers nor a detailed plan as to how I am going to figure everything out but I am going to go into this year trusting that I will find my path and JoJo will too.