In the fall of 1991, I had the privilege of meeting a young man named Lonnie. Dr. Mary and Dr. Robert Meeker were in the beginning stages of creating IPP (Integrated Practice Protocol) and meetings with Blanch Brandt from San Bernardino were taking place. Ms. Brandt played a critical role in the San Bernardino Detention Center that housed youth that had committed significant crimes. Some of these youth would be transferred into an adult correctional institution to continue serving their sentence.
Other youth would be released upon serving their required time. Ms. Brandt served many of these youth with a program that addressed perceptual deficiencies that interrupted the learning process. One of the valued outcomes from her work was a reduction in out of control behavior. She was searching for a program that would further develop specific learning abilities and found SOI. Ms. Brandt played a critical role in the development of IPP, as did the youth she served. Lonnie was one of those youths.
I had been learning SOI and working with the Meekers during this time. Ms. Brandt invited me to come down to San Bernardino to see the work she was doing. It was at this time I met Lonnie. Lonnie had been assessed with the SOI Form A. I was impressed with his ability level and asked if I could spend some time with him. It is at this point where my dedication to SOI is found. With truth and clarity, I was able to share with Lonnie his strengths and to explain some of the challenges he faced in learning. He could not deny the information; he was the one that answered the questions correctly.
I only reflected back to him what he had accomplished. He shared what he wanted to do upon being released to return to his parents’ home and to his community. He and I spent time daily talking and I learned so much from him. I shared that I was operating a program in the Lane County Youth Detention Center in Eugene, Oregon. He wished me luck and wished he could help me in my learning center when I piloted IPP.
I have shared his story with others. In the work I am currently doing in the Federal Reentry Program that serves adults on probation for Federal crimes, I have shared Lonnie’s story. Why? Identifying the challenges faced with learning and more importantly, identifying strengths unrecognized can greatly change the attitude of someone that has made a significant number of poor choices in life. Lonnie told me more than once that he would never commit another crime and that he had made that promise to his mother.
I was unable to attend Lonnie’s graduation due to a training I was doing. I have regretted that for all these years. Ms. Brandt called to tell me that Lonnie had lost his life on the way home from a welcome home party his parents had for him upon his release. They had given him a new motorbike to use for work and for college. He lost his life in an accident. Ms. Brandt also shared that his mother said that Lonnie had kept his promise to her.
Sharing his story allows me to know that he continues to help me in the work I do.
To find out more about IPP, check out the video below!
This article, written by Diane Hochstein, was originally published in our June 2012 newsletter.