Mentoring Disabled Young Woman
February 13, 2012 9:05 PM Subscribe
Ideas for once-a-week meeting with mentally disabled young woman?
posted by bearette to human relations (14 answers total)
For over a year now, I have been meeting once a week for about 2 hours with a 26 year old young woman with some mental disabilities. However I am running into challenges with how to spend the time with her.
About the situation:
We are located in China; she is Chinese, I am American. I met her through an organization that matches up volunteers with young adults with mental disabilities. I speak Chinese basically fluently; she speaks no English.
I am not sure what her exact disability is, but her IQ does not seem to be especially low. To me it seems she struggles more with social interaction. Her behavior seems childlike. She does not seem to like to talk but she understands what people say to her. She likes drawing and art and is quite talented. She acts quite shy but seems to like to be around and meet new people.
About the situation:
We have been meeting in evenings once a week from around 7 to 9 pm. At this time I am supposed to be at the office but I can take a break. What we have done in the past is some drawing in my office, and then gone nearby to get ice cream.
However, at some point a few months ago she seemed to get moodier. I think it had to do with me cancelling the meeting a couple of times due to things coming up. She once told me she was mad at me, and I didn't know what to say. She was never talkative but at this point she basically is silent the entire time, even if I ask her questions. I don't know what to do to fill up the time. I've even started to feel a little resentful and bored. I've talked to her mother about this, and her mother basically said she doesn't know what to do. Her mother brings me gifts and food each time we meet up and has basically told me many times that she hopes we can continue to meet as long as I live in this city. I find her to be a pit pushy, but she means well. (I can give examples if necessary).
So, the problem is that I no longer really enjoy the meetings, and I am starting to feel it is a burden on me; however, I know the mother and daughter would be disappointed and even angry if I just told them I couldn't meet anymore. They basically treat me like a family member. At the same time, I am really at a loss at what to do during these meetings. I guess if we met during the weekend we could do more activities thus avoiding the talking thing, but to be honest I like to keep my weekends as my own.
I would really appreciate suggestions for this situation. (what I can do differently, etc). I can give more info if necessary.
I have tried to talk to the young woman about this, but she really isn't forthcoming. She seemed to like me a lot in the beginning, but has cooled off a lot. In the past I have worked with youth with disabilities, and enjoyed it, but they were more talkative/interactive.