I was reminded of this on Sunday this week when we took an old client out to lunch for her 21st birthday. She was telling us that she had been in group homes since she was 10 years old. She never stayed anywhere very long because "of my very bad behavior". She came to us at 17, already graduated from high school (thanks to Milhouse Group Home), but with no where to go until she was 18. She started naming the staff in our group home that helped her turn her behavior around. She told us the story of how she was a handicapped person with a learning disability, and that she had always been in "Special Ed". She thought that meant she was "Special" in a way that meant she was hopeless. One of the staff was working with her one day and told her that she was only special in that she was one of a kind, and only what she chose to do with her one-of-a-kind self would make her feel good about herself. As they visited, she began to see that special didn't mean cast aside, and that no one could really judge her. She thought about it and then she told us that she understood that all the time she didn't believe the rules were for her, that they didn't apply because she wasn't capable of learning anything. When she got a better understanding that no matter how she learned, her goal was to have a home and a job, and have her parents be proud of her. With her new understanding, and her ability to evaluate her choices, in 3 years she achieved her goal.
When the staff (who had moved on since our employment) learned of her thoughts about what they had done they felt the reward of what we do. When you do this work with these most difficult children, you really are a "Most Valuable Person".