We are delighted to have a new consumer at our day program. His name is Chris, and he has wonderful and loving parents who are patient and kind. They are also committed to doing what is best for their son, even though many “experts” have told them to give up. Chris is on the autism spectrum and has developed much more successfully than “experts” predicted that he would.

He joined our day program at the beginning of the year and so is still finding his way with us as he is learning our routines and we are getting to know him. Things are going well with Chris so far, but that doesn’t mean things are always easy. He needs encouragement and coaxing to participate with the group, and he has a tendency to self-isolate. People with autism have a difficult time with change and coming to Greater Opportunities is definitely a big change for Chris. Despite this, we are all making progress with each other.

Chris’ moving personal story is revealed in correspondence between our Day Program Coordinator, Renee, and his mom, Pilar, who kindly granted permission to share these comments:

 

Hi Dave and Pilar:

Just wanted to give you a quick update on Chris.

I have two very experienced staff working with Chris. They are both working on a specific routine for him from the time he arrives until the time he goes home.

He seems to be more settled in and smiles a lot.  He is calling people by their names and is extending his hand when he meets others. (our consumers are very friendly, and we teach them to shake hands)

I showed Michelle our communication devices and we will slowly introduce them to Chris.  Right now, a lot is going on at the day program, and we will get Chris acclimated in due time.

His staff’s names are Priscilla and Loana.  Today, he met, Ernie, Rayleen, Sarah, Rosie and Sandra.

He seemed to take a liking to Rosie, who was sitting across from him. 🙂

I will keep you posted.

And thank you for sharing your video!

Renee

Hi Renee,

Thanks for the update. And more importantly, thank you for being so kind towards Chris. We want you to know that we will support you and your program in any way we can. Working with special needs people takes a deep commitment of patience and love that we feel you so strongly have. Chris may not communicate well, but he is so very intuitive and perceptive about people. He comes home and seems so happy each day.

I think creating a routine will help him know what to do and when. Chris can do so many things, like read, play piano, swim, ski, do puzzles, paint, etc.,. but  all of this is hard for him to motor plan and initiate on his own. He often needs prompting, and one long-standing goal has been for him to be more independent with his communication and choices.

About 10 years ago Chris suffered a near fatal experience with acid reflux. He began vomiting all the time, and couldn’t keep food or liquid down. This was in Boston around 2004. He was hospitalized multiple times at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. He lost so much weight that he could barely walk. He was almost in need of a wheel chair. With the help of a lot of holistic medicine, he gradually improved. I notice that he often will delay in eating, and then will gulp down his food, often forcing big mouthfuls down. I suspect there is either still mental or physical pain associated with swallowing. We always try to cut up his food, and encourage him to take small bites, chew, wait, and swallow before the next bite. I would be happy to even have this as a long term goal for him.

Chris, with all of his challenges, is truly the heart and soul of our family. He has been an inspiration to all of us by how he lives his life with a constant happiness like Buddah, and with the humility and gratitude that is almost Christlike.

Sometimes he gets ‘stuck’ on things and we can’t explain why. I know it can be frustrating to work with, and I so appreciate your patience with him. Sometimes I will give him a task to do, or a chore as a way of ‘unsticking’ him.

He loves listening to music, and lately prefers Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Pitbull, and Taylor Swift. He often asks to go onto youtube and will type in the names of titles he likes, like ‘sugar’, ‘pay phone’, and of course ‘uptown funk’. I am thinking that it might be an incentive or a way to get him to willingly go to his transportation.

David, myself, and Michelle have been so moved by the gentleness of your staff and clients. If you have any suggestions for us, I am all ears.

Have a great day,

Pilar

Chris and the Greater Opportunities Day Program

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