Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 26: What's in a Name? A Little Random (hopefully-not-too-dull) Knowledge

Most of you are probably familiar with Woodbine House publishing.  If you are not, Woodbine House publishes books that take up prime real estate on the bookshelves, coffee tables and nightstands of parents of children with special needs, from Down syndrome to depression, autism to ADHD, celiac disease to cerebral palsy, sensory processing disorder to spina bifida.  They provide a lifeline for parents and educators to learn how best to work with special kids to help them reach their full potentials.  Some of the notable titles on our shelves at home include Early Communication Skills for Children with Down Syndrome, Fine Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome, Gifts, and Down Syndrome:  The First 18 Months.

Fewer of you are familiar with the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales.  This is a method to measure someone's adaptive behavior, or how they do certain things in their everyday life as they pertain to social and personal sufficiency (think of life skills), as opposed to what they are actually able to do.  Now I'm certainly no expert on this, and am not sure if this sort of evaluation goes on regularly in the classroom and in more clinical settings for our kids, or if it's something that is formally presented to the parents as needing their permission.  Whichever, it is still something that I've heard mentioned in reference to our children, and can certainly see how this is a useful tool for educators.

I'm willing to bet that almost none of you knew that Woodbine and Vineland are two towns in South Jersey, each a mere 20-or-so miles from each other, neighbors to the beach, suburbs to Philadelphia. .  And that both of these towns were pretty notable over the last century or so for each having a large State School, or Development Center, or, dare I say it, institution, although that may be too strong a word with connotations more negative than are warranted.  I don't know.  The one in Woodbine was created in 1921 and called the Woodbine Development Center, an intermediate care facility for developmentally disabled men and boys.  The one in Vineland is called The Vineland Training School, originally called "The New Jersey Home for the Education and Care of Feebleminded Children" in 1888.  Pearl S. Buck placed her daughter at the Vineland Training School.  Both facilities are still in operation today, and you can find an interesting history of the Vineland school here.

I do know that the Vineland Scales get their origin from the Vineland Training School.  I'm not able to find the name origin of Woodbine House tracing back to the Woodbine Development Center, although I'm pretty sure this is the case.  There's a company called Woodbine, Inc. that's based out of Canada (in some town whose name I can't pronounce or even spell, for that matter) that provides opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.  Coincidental?

At any rate, also coincidentally, I grew up in Vineland, New Jersey, and my father grew up in Woodbine, New Jersey.  I always knew about the "state schools," as we called them, but they were a bit mysterious to me and my friends.  We could view the rolling green campus housed behind a tall wrought iron fence, see the residents strolling arm in arm with uniformed nurses, being pushed in wheelchairs, or sitting in the gazebos.  Mysterious, but not menacing.  There was nothing dark or sinister about either place, and in the case of Woodbine (perhaps Vineland, too, although I don't have any knowledge of this myself), some residents were permitted to leave from time to time to work jobs in the town.  My uncle tells of "Tony," a 40-something-year-old gentleman with Down syndrome who used to ride around the town on his bicycle.  I find this both odd and refreshing.  Odd because the expected lifespan for someone with Down syndrome at that time (in the 1960s) was pretty short and because riding a bike would have been one heck of a challenge.  Refreshing because, well, you know why.  :-)

Sorry for the rambling post, but I have nearly run out of things to talk about this month and thought you might enjoy a bit of random trivia.    


Debbie @ Three Weddings said...

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. I had heard of Woodbine publishing of course, but not the other nor did I know the significance.

Amy Flege said...

that is interesting!! my cousin shelly has Ds and is 46 he rides his bike all over my home town.... people always know he is sick when they havent seen him on his bike for a while !