Diana Bilezikian Writes About Her Life and Helping Others
After graduating from my Scarsdale High School in the June of 1990, I lived at home for a little while, doing some work at home and in some offices. Then I was part of Chapel Haven’s Independent Living Program For Young Adults With Special Needs (a bit of history: It was founded in 1972 — a year before my time — downtown on Chapel Street before it moved up here to Whalley Avenue — up here in New Haven, Connecticut — so, hence the name Chapel Haven) was definitely the answer to my question regarding What Do I Want To Do With My Life As A High School Graduate? So, anyway, we had made plenty of good reservations for me to get accepted up there- first, during the August of 1992, as of Monday, August 10th, 1992 until Sunday, August 16th, 1992. I was a week visitor, trying it out for at least a whole week and then, one year later, as of the June of 1993, I got re-accepted up there again as a permanent resident client until I graduated in the May of 1996 and moved out into the community now that I’d gotten myself a decent paying job at Taco Bell- a good fast-food restaurant as the dining room attendant, helping to keep it nice and clean for the customers and also, taken all of those independent living courses. So, anyway, as a permanent resident, I lived in the residence building in a good transitional practice all-girls’ apartment, taking those everyday classes and courses as well as occasionally allowing my vocational counselors, speech pathologists, psychologists, job coaches, public transportation travel-trainers, and support coordinators to work with me privately- other counselors were called Resource Room Instructors- in charge of the classrooms, teaching the classes to everybody. So, anyway, at first, I lived in a very nice rented big blue house apartment at 1260 West Prospect Street on the first floor with Jill and Paige, but two years later, my parents helped me move into my very own nice condominium apartment at the Village Condominiums- 999 Whalley Avenue- Unit #2E as that was also one year after I decided to move on from Taco Bell to working for the Christmas Trees Shops, keeping the Employees Only Lounge in good shape. So, that’s the entire answer to my question. But I am not finished yet, because now, I can definitely get onto some of the very best parts ever- my favorite ones.
So, anyway, my parents definitely did help me to set up my nice computer and printer in my very nice condo apartment in my den area, even helping me to get my e-mail (electronic mail). And that was when I kept on sending out lots of detailed e-mail messages to my relatives and friends regarding all of the wonderful skills that Chapel Haven was still teaching me, explaining good use of each one. Now, this is exactly how it all started some more: When I told Cousin Nancy all about how clients can definitely learn about taking the bus to and from public places, I even added lots of useful and helpful information regarding sitting quietly in your seat while the bus is in motion for safety reasons- all that relates to Bus Appropriate Safety Behaviors. And since Cousin Nancy was really enjoying all of my really very good e-mails like these, she suggested to me by e-mail writing a book- she suggested to me by e-mail, feeling absolutely impressed and proud of me this- “, I think that you could write a book on independent living since there are many other young adults with special needs just like you who sure could benefit from it. You could call it “Diana Bilezikian’s Guide To Independent Living.” And that’s when I suddenly thought to myself, “Hey, I think that that sounds like a great idea! After all, why not? Whatever has always been able to work for me sure can work for other individuals with special needs as well.” And at the exact same time, since I didn’t feel right about going around telling practically everybody what to do, but of course, they would definitely need some help, so, when I asked my parents about it, they explained to me about some good helpful advice columnists called “Dear Ann Landers” and “Dear Abby.” So, here are some good helpful examples of “Dear Diana”- pretending that lots of people were writing to me and of course, I wrote them back. Here are some of the letters that went out.
I must stay at home, waiting for my maintenance people to show up so that I can let them into my apartment and give them the instructions, but I also must go to my job. So, what do you think I should do? I want to be nice and responsible these ways.
Signed, Priority Person.
Dear Priority Person,
Either have your maintenance people come by on one of your days off from work or simply just call your job bosses and explain it to them as surely, they will understand and will not give you any trouble about it. Good luck with both these tasks as well.
Oh, dear! I am often late for my classes because my parents are not always responsible for calling me on my landline phone. So, whatever shall I do so that I can learn to be on time for my classes instead of late?
Signed, Late Person.
Dear Late Person,
Simple. Just go to a good reliable store and get an alarm clock. And if necessary, get somebody to help you with it and once you have learned how to make it ring off, choose a decent wake-up time, set it to go off, place it on top of your dresser (If you place it on your nightstand where you also place your book, your cup of water, etc., you will hit the snooze button, dozing back off again, missing your responsibilities and all.), (Also, if you want to, you can even place a reminder note underneath the clock in order to help remind you to do something.) and the next morning, when it goes off, you must get out of bed, shut it off, remain out of bed, and get ready for your day and this way, you are helping to allow yourself enough time to have some breakfast and such before going off to work for the day instead of rushing yourself and exhausting yourself out. If it seems a bit too early for you to enter your workplace, try going out for a cup of coffee or something and reading the newspaper while you’re waiting patiently for that work time to come. And you will also definitely need to set a good alarm clock on your cellphone in order to help to remind you when your time is up. Also, this is one of my favorite useful and helpful guidelines: Whenever I visit my parents, during our free time before dinner, while finding myself something to do, sometimes I also even like to set a good helpful alarm clock on my cellphone to remind myself to put away my puzzle or something, wash up for dinner, come to the dinner table a little ahead of time, and count a couple of pictures on the walls while waiting patiently for dinner to begin (Also, if you want to keep yourself busy and occupied while riding for your ride, instead of doing your chores or something, missing it, count cars or something.). And these ways, you are perfectly on time for anything. Good luck with them as well for sure.
My parents and I worked absolutely tirelessly non-stop with my previous “Dear Diana” Book with absolutely no excuses or exceptions for simply refusing to do so even if it meant having to edit some of the information that was too confusing, inappropriate, or even too repetitive for my book. And once it finally got published, practically everybody got some very nice autographed copies of my book (Of course, all proceeds will go directly to Chapel Haven so that we can pay for our nice new buildings. So, anyway, it was as of April 2015 when I got started with serving as Dr. Costa’s very special guest speaker, giving clear insight on exactly what it is like to have special needs, answering each direct clarified question one at a time from each student as well as Dr. Costa and Mike. I got all groomed up, all dressed up, and stood up in front of the whole class to absolutely talk non-stop no matter what (speech impairments, for instance), even also, sometimes using the plastic board for drawing a couple of interesting things for helping to answer questions as also, of course, each student got a nice autographed copy of my book in the end. Eileen McKeatinge- Dr. Costa’s Professor Friend also let me serve as her very special guest speaker. One day, she, Dr. Costa, more professors, Mike, my parents, and me, we all met in the library to discuss things and also, to be nicely treated to lunch at Carmine’s Italian Restaurant by Mike. As a guest speaker, I sometimes sang some songs, gave some good speeches, answered questions, made some nice drawings on the plastic boards, did practically everything that related to being such a good guest speaker. Of course, on our ways up and back, Mike and I stopped for coffee and also, some nice pitt stops just like I always do with my father whenever we travel to and from visiting his sister Aunty Pauline. Mike was even talking to his wife Amy on his special car cellphone and also, some other people. He and I are very close and I also love Amy, and their two children Ava and Gavin and their dog- one very special happy family, that is. My teaching activities at Montclaire are mainly my giving exact clear insight on what it is like to have special needs so that the school students will know just how to work with school students with special needs and yes, sometimes, I do teach a couple of skills to these students besides answering their questions one at a time. And as far as my second book, it will be my sequel called “Dear Diana- Part Two” with lots more useful and helpful information as one of my favorite sections is Charity- Donating Some Of Your Old Clothes To The Poor For Free. My other books will be children’s books, novels for teenagers, princesses earn handsome princes as special rewards for working on their goals, a good Christmas Story- since Mrs. Claus is so sick and tired of always having to wash Santa Claus’s suit for him because of his dirtying it from going up and down the chimneys so much (“His clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.”), he learns to use his head and use the doors instead of the chimneys, because Mrs. Claus has just about had it. Also, in signing off, just a couple of cherished memories- some of my favorite ones- I think I will try at least four of them that I sure can remember:
1. If a family reunion was a bit stressful for me in the case where instead of watering the flowers, I watered my pants, then, I simply just changed into dry pants and sat down and made a nice caterpillar on the grass out of some of Grandma’s sewing materials with absolutely no trouble at all. Good Coping Strategies- Stress Management.
2. I chose for myself to drink plenty of fluids when I was sick in order to get well- plenty of ice cold fluids- good.
3. Multiplication in school counted as one good helpful example of good Job-Training Skills- one very good idea.
4. And here’s my favorite cherished childhood memory: I was eight years old and Babysitter Kathy took my little sister Sara and me to visit her friend Martha and her baby daughter Elizabeth in their very nice apartment in Bronxville after school. And I got to play with Elizabeth’s toy doughnuts. So, I decided to neatly line them up on a table, standing behind the table, making up this song as I went along, singing it, “Come on in and get some doughnuts. We sell them right here...” and when I was finally halfway through with my doughnut song, Kathy decided to pretend to be a customer, ordering a cup of coffee. Now, maybe I was getting the idea of working at a nice doughnut shop as a high school graduate. Or perhaps, if I played with my toy doctor’s kit, that counted as practicing to become a doctor. If I got to help fold the laundry, that was good job-training regarding working in a nice hotel or cruise ship, doing guests’ laundry for them. If sometimes at school, I got to bring my teachers some nice hot cups of coffee, that, too was good restaurant job-training. Helping to wash the cars was good job-training for maybe someday working at nice car wash places. If I got to take guests’ coats during my parents’ parties, that counted as being a nice butler or somebody, helping to make the guests feel welcome at home. If at my summer sleepaway camp called Camp Triangle, I sometimes got to help sort out the mail, that was job-training for either office work or being a mail clerk or something like that. Lots of good job-training skills for sure- good memories.
P.S. I just love to help other people at anytime.
P.P.S. I am also so glad that we are such close friends.