Dear John: Letters from Angela—1
What's it like to hear from a former student many years later?
[This is the first in an extended series of posts that, I hope, illuminate the life of an individual with disabilities. The content is actual letters that a former student sent me; as I’ll explain in the next entry, they are literal transcriptions. Rather than tell you my story, let Angela tell you her own story. I’ll provide context in subsequent posts. —JohnL]
1990 March 22
Dear John! How are you? Do you remember me? I was your student way back from Phil [redacted]’s, Allen [redacted]’s and [redacted]’s class at Cal State L.A. I’ve been keeping in touch with Allen [redacted] through out the years. He told me that he touched base with you recently, and told me that you like to hear from me. I’ve had not forgotten you as a teacher. I still remember you.
How is your wife Pat?
Well its been 20 years since I’ve been to L.A. State. I’ve went through a lot of changes. It was a hard journey and adventure for me starting at Public school in the fall of 1970 and I went through a very hard time in junior high school and high school because I’ve gotten hassled by my peers because I was different, but I’ve made it through. It was bad to the point where I felt like dropping out of school, but I’ve didn’t because I’ve did not believe in giving up. Instead I’ve graduated from high school and I’ve had 6 years of college, but I’ve did not graduate from college because the class material was too difficult for me. I’ve tried different majors, but I’ve decided in 1986 to take a different route.
In 1986 I’ve went through some testing, because I knew that something was definitely wrong with me and I need to know what areas I have difficulties in. So I went through the whole mail. I went to the speech and hearing clinic, Easter Seals, Psychologists and the Neourologist at Kaiser Permanente Hospital.
I’ve gotten a surprise, I’ve found out that I was not autistic, and that my behavior was from immitating my autistic sister. The test shown that I have a severe Learning Disability that includes the visual, hearing and understanding speech and I do have attention difficit disorder without the hyperactivity. I was relieved to found out that I was never the Norman Bate’s type (I mean Psychotic which I’ve thought I was because of the labels that I’ve heard my doctors put on me when I was little. So I’m relieved. I do have Secondary Emotional problems as a result, but I’m having that taking care of through Counseling, which is good. I go once a week.
I am doing a lot better now. I am wearing 2 hearing aids to correct the dyslexia I have in hearing. It makes a lot of difference. The words are not jumbled up anymore and I wear special glasses for the dyslexia in my vision called the Irlin Lenses. So I’m getting treatment for my Learning Disability and it helps.
In the past 2 years I’ve been attending a special program for Learning Disabled adults in Irvine called the Center for Brain Dysfunction. They’ve helped me in communicating better and help me build up my skills in getting a job and keeping one, also job behaviors what is appropriate or not appropriate behaviors. Then they did job placement with me.
In the last 2 years I’ve had some work experience. I was working at a company for 9 months as a therapist aide working with Autistic, retarded adults with Behavior Problems. It’s involved picking them up in a Van from there group homes and take them to the job sites and coach them on their tasks. I was there for nine months and I’ve gotten fired because I was not suited for promotion, but at least I tried. I’ve taken it hard first, but I thank God it did happen because the job was getting stressful for me. I’ve had very scary close call with some clients a couple of times. The first time It was scary. I’ve almost gotton strangled by an autistic male client and I’ve manage with my strength and the help of the therapist I was working with gotton him away from me. I’ve had to write an incident report. The second time was funny. One of the male clients in my group taken off his clothes, went stripped naked into the ladie’s room. This job was kind of stressful and hilarisous. I can write a book on it.
Then I’ve taken care of an elderly lady for six months as a companion until she went into the convalescent home.
Then a month ago the center for brain dysfunction placed me on a job that I’ve been for a month now and I enjoy it a lot. I am working at a company called United Handicapp of America doing telemarketing saling special lightbulbs over the phone that lasts for five year. My boss said that I’ve doing a great job and I feel a lot better about mysself now since I’m working at a job I can handle very well.
I also have a lot of hobbies. I ice skate, help out the special olympics and play the flute, which I’ve been playing for 11 years.
I’ve also have a steady boyfriend I’ve been going with for 2 years. His name is Brian and he’s also Learning Disabled too, but we help each other out. Its a positive relationship and possibly next year April 1991 we will be getting married. We been talking about it for a year and a half, but we have to wait until we are both financially established. In Sept of this year when I start working full time we will get enganged officially, tell my parents after we get enganged. Brain is a lot better than the last guy I went out with. He happened to be the guy that was in Mr. [redacted]’s class with me. His name was Paul [redacted]. I went with him for only a month 3 years ago. Paul’s pretty mixed up. Thats why the relationship did not work out. He was afraid of a relationship with a woman. Paul still the same in some ways that he was in [redacted]’s class, but I’ve a lot happier with Brian.
I’ve seen Patsy [redacted] 2 years ago. She’s not doing too good. She has multiple sclerosis. It’s too bad.
Well John thats all the news. I know that this letter is long, but I’ve had a lot to tell you.
Drop a line sometime.
My address is:
Angela Bruszer [physical address redacted]
P.S. Give my love to your wife Pat.
P.S. Here is a couple of snapshots of me.