The Impact of Munchkin
Posted September 4, 2012
How did Vista member Courtney Dinsky know that she wanted a cat?...while visiting a friend’s home, Courtney and her Patient Care Technician, Fran Mattison, noticed how her friend’s cats cuddled up to her - even to the point of sleeping on her stomach! Courtney told Fran that the cats made her feel calm and relaxed.
After conducting research on various breeds of cat, Courtney decided on seeking a breeder for a breed of cat that was known for their gentle temperament - the Ragdoll breed - and after some searching, Courtney came to be the proud owner of “Munchkin” (named after her favorite characters in the Wizard of Oz!) After some initial guidance on how to interact with, understand, and care for her cat, Courtney and Munchkin have become the best of friends.
In addition to learning about the responsibility of caring for another living thing and the obvious benefits of companionship, the relationship between cat and owner has also fostered several positive changes in Courtney’s social and emotional functioning.
Courtney’s Program Counselor at Vista, Laurie Pilcher, indicates that she is noticing that Courtney has begun transferring what she has learned from her interactions with Munchkin and is applying this knowledge to her interpersonal relationships amongst her friends. While Laurie reports that Courtney has learned to recognize when Munchkin displays signals indicating that it wants to be alone and needs space, when it comes to her own actions, Fran, Laurie and the rest of the team that works with Courtney have noticed her having not only a reduced level of anxiety but also a heightened sense of responsibility.
These social and emotional changes are also acknowledged by Courtney herself. When asked about what she has learned from owning a cat Courtney says, “It gives me a purpose to come home. Instead of having nothing to do at work and hanging out with people who weren’t in my best interest, I spend more time relaxed at home. I used to have a lot of people over and not know how to say no. Now, I can only have 1-2 guests over at a time, and they have to be very respectful.” Courtney also indicates that she is proud that she has learned to be responsible for Munchkin and loves that everyone adores her cat.
During a visit to the local vet to have Munchkin checked out, Courtney even met another Vista member, Katie Lynn, who was working at the vet’s office and offered to be available to Courtney to answer any questions or concerns that she has about her cat. The two have since connected, forming a new relationship that continues on.
The last bit of good news is that - according to Vista’s Benefits Counselor, Laurel Berezowskyj, the cost of the care and supplies for the cat can be used as an Impairment Related Work Expense because it reduces Courtney's anxiety, allowing her to function more effectively at work.
For more information on Social Security's acceptable work expenses, call Laurel Berezowskyj at Vista at (860) 399-8080.