Julie Petty on Hot Springs Rehabilitation Center

In Arkansas they have what they call Hot Springs
Rehabilitation Center. It is run by the Arkansas Rehab Services. Hot Springs is the name of
a town in central Arkansas. Actually, Bill Clinton grew up there. Anyway, so what you
do is you go, and this is a huge place. It used to be the old army hospital, right, so
the building is huge. So, people with disabilities –people with dd, people with learning disabilities,
people with acquired disabilities, like have been in a car wreck –they go there and they
get physical therapy and they can also learn a vocation. So, I said, “I think I want
to learn a vocation.” You get a certificate. And they have anything from learning to be
a mechanic, to data processing, to file clerk. This is the closest I have ever been to an
institution because you have to live on the grounds of the rehab center. And I was scared
to death. Because I stayed in that room, and the beds were like hospital beds, and it was
just scary. I had a roommate I didn’t even know. It was just awful! So you go there and
you go through this evaluation to see what you would be good at. You do all these test
for a whole week. And they decided after my evaluation that I should be a file clerk –filing
papers at businesses or whatever. I am like, “You got to be kidding me! With my motor
skills?” And I will never forget it. When I got sick with a cold or something, I just
wanted to stay in my room and sleep. They wouldn’t let me. I had to go this place
called Second Medical. It was on the second floor of the main building, the medical place.
And I just got hysterical because that was even scarier. I got hysterical. I made them
call my parents. I was like, “I am not staying the night on that medical floor!” And if
you didn’t show up for your vocational class, if you didn’t go to class, you got written
up. We had a curfew. We had to be in by 10 o’clock every night. I got in trouble for
that a lot. And if you got in trouble like that you didn’t get to… You had to get
a weekend pass from your counselor to go out on the weekends. You had to tell them where
you were going and stuff. If you broke curfew or whatever, they wouldn’t give you a weekend
pass. It really sucked!

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