“Book of Dreams” will include the aspirations of 17 people with disabilities. Among the wishes:

Tom Thibodeau, 32: a treehouse, a riding lawn mower, a trip to see his sister in Connecticut and, most of all, more friends.

Micah Phillips, 26: an Xbox, a card game called Gaia the Dragon Champion, a chance to play ball in Fenway Park and a black belt in karate.

Others: visiting a spa with a friend, going to the zoo, getting a new watch, picking apples, and having a hammock and a swing.

‘Book of dreams’
A local woman is working with 17 mentally retarded adults to make a book about the wishes and aspirations of people with disabilities.

AUBURN – Tom Thibodeau had no problem coming up with a list of things that he would want if he could have absolutely anything.

He wants a treehouse, a riding lawn mower, a trip to see his sister and her two kids in Connecticut.

But more than anything, the 32-year-old said, he wants to hang out, go bowling and drink coffee with people who aren’t being paid to take care of him.

“You know what I’d like to have?” Thibodeau said, bowing his head and lowering his voice. “More friends. That’s what I want more than anything.”

Thibodeau never gave much thought to his goals and wishes until Terry Scott asked him to contribute to a book that she is putting together about local people with mental retardation.

Scott is the director of adult services at Support Solutions, a local agency that provides services to people with developmental disabilities.

For 19 years, she has worked with adults who have wanted all of their lives to do things that other people accomplish by their early teens.

She has listened to them talk about wanting to grow a garden, spend a night in a hotel and go to the mall. They talk about such mundane things the way people without disabilities talk about buying their first home, traveling abroad or starting their own business.

“I don’t think the community knows what this population is all about,” Scott said. “I don’t think people know how great they are.”

After attending a work-related seminar this fall, Scott came up with the idea to make a book about the aspirations and wishes of people with developmental disabilities. She decided to call it “Book of Dreams.”

She ran the idea by her clients and asked if any of them would help by writing a short story and making a collage about things they wanted in life.

She told them their projects would be copied and bound together, then distributed to people throughout the community.

Seventeen people, ages 21 to 35, signed up.

“I do think it’s a cool idea because, like Terry said, physically challenged people have dreams, too,” said Micah Phillips, a 26-year-old Auburn man with mental retardation.

Scott asked each person to think of at least three wishes.

Phillips came up with more than 10. Some of them resemble items on a teenage boy’s Christmas list: an Xbox video system and a card game called Gaia the Dragon Champion.

But those are not priorities, he said, twirling a piece of hair on the top of his head.

At the top of his list is a wish that he’s been holding onto since fifth grade, when he went to the Museum of Science in Boston on a school trip and the bus driver pointed out Fenway Park.

“I thought, ‘I want to go there,'” Phillips recalled. “One of these days, I ought to be on the bench. I want to achieve that goal so bad.”

He is reminded every time he watches a game on TV that he still hasn’t been on that bench. He’s also reminded that he’s never been on a baseball team, he’s never hit a home run in front of a cheering crowd. He’d like that.

A five-year karate student with a blue-striped belt, Phillips also would like to get his black belt and teach a self-defense class. He came up with the idea years ago while thinking about the time his mother was harassed by a drunken landlord.

“I don’t care how the heck I’m going to do it,” he said. “But I’m going to do it. Nobody should have to take that.”

Scott has given the book’s contributors until Dec. 20 to complete their assignments. Three people have already handed them in. Their goals include: going to a spa with a friend, visiting the zoo, getting a new watch and picking apples.

One woman glued two pictures to her collage: a hammock and a swing.

“This is an opportunity for them to share who they are, to tell people that they have the same dreams and wishes as other people,” Scott said. “They just have a harder time achieving them.”

Scott plans to have copies of the book ready by Jan. 12. She doesn’t know how she will distribute them. She may simply hand them out on the street, and ask people to do what they can do to help.


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