Autobiography of B. Jean Young

My life began in Munich, Germany in 1949.  My father, Robert C. Lorenzen, was in the U.S. Air Force.  Because of that we moved every four years.  I lived in Germany three times, Panama CZ, and in several states.  Throughout my childhood and adolescents, I had volunteered with children who had a variety of disabilities.  I then realized that this was my mission in life.

I graduated from high school at Balboa High School in Panama Canal Zone in 1967.  I had hopes of continuing my education.  I had planned to obtain my bachelors and masters in a variety of disabilities and then my doctorate degree in administration with an emphasis in disabilities.  I eventually wanted to open up my own clinic for a variety of disabilities.  I began my university studies at Canal Zone College in Balboa, Panama Canal Zone.  I attended two years while working as a librarian aid with an emphasis in working with children with disabilities. I got married and moved back to Germany.  A year later I moved to Somerset, Pennsylvania working at a State Hospital with people who had emotional problems.

In 1971, I moved to Tucson, Arizona working full time at the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind as a teacher’s assistant.  Finally, I began taking a few classes at the University of Arizona with the hopes and dreams of accomplishing my goal of obtaining my bachelor’s degree in special education with an emphasis on mental disabilities.  To accomplish my dreams, I changed jobs to Arizona Training Program in Tucson where I could attend the university full time and work full time.  At this facility I worked the 3pm-11:30pm shift as a mental retardation specialist, helping adolescents with life skills.

Late January of 1976, I began taking my last few classes and student teaching to obtain my special education degree with an emphasis in mental disabilities.  I finished my shift at Arizona Training Program at 11:30pm and began driving in my small Datsun 1200 north on Campbell Rd.  At his time a man who had been drinking heavily at a bar of a hotel on Campbell and Speedway decided to get in his Firebird and drove up a street which intersected with Campbell.  Upon approaching  Campbell, he passed a stop sign at a very fast pace and crashed into the right side of my small Datsun.

Waking up one morning, I found myself in strange surroundings.  I noticed a calendar on the wall which read March 1976.  Most of the month of March was marked off.  A man in a white coat walked through the door and explained I was at UMC and that I had been in a serious car crash caused by a drunk driver.  I had been in a coma for a month and a half was supported my life supporting machines.  I had a 3% chance of living.  I then was in a semi coma for another month and a half.  He said I had support from my family who split up the 24 hour day speaking to me about my life.  I also had friends, children from ATPT, and pastors visiting me.  All the love and support I received helped me become conscious.

From then on, I went through physical, occupational, academical, and speech therapies.  I followed through with the therapies at home.  My Dad helped me with gross motor skills in a swimming pool.  I was fluent in deaf sign language prior to the crash, so I attempted to practice my sign.  That helped me with fine motor skills.  I went to the University of Arizona rehabilitation section and they tested me and helped me in areas of mental capabilities.  In 1977, I went to a doctor who was a hypnotherapist.  Through hypnosis I learned to transfer the knowledge of my left side of my brain to my right side.

Four years later I went back to the U of A and finished my bachelor’s degree in special education with a certificate in mental disability.  I began teaching special ed full time.  During the summers I became certified in learning disabilities, emotional disabilities, physical disabilities, early childhood disabilities and teaching sign language in Junior Colleges.  I also became certified in hypnotherapy and received four certificates in that field.  While teaching, I became both a hypnotherapist, and  a parent advisor for deaf, blind and babies with multiple disabilities.

Though the crash was a negative time in my life, I became more aware of the psychological, mental, emotional, physical, and social aspects of disabilities.  Through MADD, I am able to share my story, helping them become more aware of alcohol and drug abuse.