“A Career for Life” - Judy Campbell-Childerhorse’s Story
A couple years ago, I filled out the survey on how I was inspired to work in the field of Intervenor Services. I wrote how as a child, my eyes were opened when watching Patty Duke's "The Miracle Worker", as well as learning the manual alphabet in Brownies and as a university student, volunteering with students who were deaf. After working as an EA, supply and summer school teachers, a speech pathologist suggested I interview for an intervenor position in a school. When hired by the Near North School Board, it turned out to be one of the most difficult jobs I had ever had, but felt it would tie me over until a better offer came along.
For the first few months, the child Tim (not his real name) with whom I was working rarely made eye contact with me. After the first 3 months of kindergarten we bonded. He would finally make eye contact when I was signing to him! By grade one, Tim was beginning to read and even invented his own sign for "moo-moo" by pointing to a picture in a book and signing "cow, cow" while making a mooing sound. This left me with an inexplicable feeling of surprise and disbelief, making me feel that all the effort I put into signing to someone who used less than 20 signs was worth it! Even though I saw this job as temporary, I ended up staying 14 years until Tim finished high school. As he developed a large vocabulary and love of reading, I was hooked. While exploring the world with its Prime Ministers and Presidents, he especially identified with PM Jean Chretien who had been born deaf in one ear with facial paralysis, something Tim felt they both shared to a certain degree. He even visited me after school finished when my husband's military posting took us to Denver, Colorado.
When we relocated to London, ON after a five year military posting, I knew that I would not be happy working in any other field. I applied to DeafBlind Ontario Services where I have worked since 2006. In supporting adults with deafblindness, I have been honoured to be able to be a part of a creative process that helps them meet life’s challenges. Over the past 13 years, I have been given the opportunity to share sensory experiences, art classes, transition people I support into new homes, holiday and special occasion parties and even accompanied one client on a sensory excursion to a resort. I can't describe how rewarding it is to see the sign of recognition or understanding in a person's eyes indicating that we have made a connection. This is what has kept me working in this field, so much so that at times I can't believe that I am actually getting paid for what I do!
Throughout my years as an intervenor, I have experienced :
cues and clues
saying things in a hundred different ways
possibilities and probabilities seeing the world thru the eyes of the people I support
sense of humour
going outside my comfort zone (heights and snakes) to support someone’s wishes
Little did I know that being an intervenor would be my career. The word "intervenor" didn't exist when I learned about Helen Keller dying in 1968 when I was 11 yrs old. Since 1987, I have followed my passion traveling a series of bumps and bends in the road, seeing the world thru the eyes and ears of the people I support. I have gained not only a career, but friends and great memories along the way.