If you’ve scrolled down to the bottom right hand side of this blog lately you may have noticed that Lauren is now on Facebook. I’ve been trying to come up with not only a way to help Lauren to connect with people, but also a way to provide an opportunity for others to know what is going on in Lauren’s life. I’m hoping Facebook may be the answer. The number of people that Lauren sees on a regular basis is very small. But there are many people who skirt the edges of her life. We all have those kinds of people in our lives, those friends and family members that you really only see a couple of times a year. Why do you still feel connected to them when you don’t see them very often? Maybe because when you do see them or give them a call, you can catch up, share what’s been going on in your life, and reinforce why you want to stay connected. Lauren can’t do that. She can’t call somebody and update them on how her life is going. When she goes to a family party or runs into an old friend, she can’t tell them about the new caregiver she hired or her pick for the next American Idol . When people she doesn’t see regularly are in her company, they have very little to talk to her about and end up talking to me, about her...or ignoring her completely. I think people would be more comfortable around Lauren if they had the opportunity to know her better, to know what her life is like, to know that she has interests, and preferences, and gripes, and, basically, a life.
I’ve mentioned before that we tried forming a circle of support and it never got off the ground. I don’t believe the people we invited felt any real connection with Lauren. They were, for the most part, people I knew, not people who knew Lauren. But if people could get to know Lauren better, if they begin to have a connection and understanding of who she is, they may be more willing to make an investment in participating in her future or caring about her well-being. Of course, Lauren needs a caregiver, or me, to help her use Facebook, but it’s very easy to allow her to make a comment about her day, what her plans are, or how she’s feeling. I’ve set it up with the highest security setting and if you’re not an allowed friend you can’t get on her page. I’m encouraged by the initial response. Within three hours of sending out the first friend requests, Lauren had fourteen friends, including first and second cousins, former caregivers, and a half-sister who lives in England. Within three hours, Lauren had a significantly improved connection with the world. I hope Facebook will expand Lauren’s world and expand the knowledge that other’s have of her world.