Mae with her father and sister, Lena, who is also living with autism.
Through all these trials and tribulations, we are raising two girls who continue to be loving, kind, caring, and all around wonderful people who would befriend every person they meet, and certainly talk to anyone and everyone without discrimination or discernment. Their challenges are not due to anything they have done wrong or chosen to have…it’s all just an unforeseeable and unfortunate genetic abnormality. They rarely complain about the limitations they recognize in themselves and move through life with a sort of stumbling grace I envy. I am their father and I love them and hope we as parents can put things in place to assure reasonably full and meaningful lives for them.
– Bob (father to Mae and Lena)
To view Mae’s full story visit http://www.realstoriesrealpeople.org/mae/
Mae works in the cafeteria at Agnes Scott College once a week through a job training program at her high school. Over 80% of adults with intellectual disabilities are not employed. Approximately 63% of people with disabilities who are unemployed want to work. The majority of special education students who age out of high school could be successful at working paid jobs in the community but supported employment is needed to ensure their success. Earning an income would steer these individuals away from a life of dependence and poverty. For every dollar invested in supported employment there is a return of $1.61.
Once Mae ages out of high school in November our focus will be on job training. Mae is very capable of working but she will need perhaps a year of social skills, community navigation and job training before she would be ready to be placed, then who knows how many months of job coaching? However, at some point I believe she will make a good employee and by working, she will begin to return Georgia’s investment in her. She has participated in a number of internship positions through her high school program and the common denominator is that she is a pleasure to work with so I am hopeful she will be able to find a position suitable for her, with time and help.
Bob (Mae’s father)
I have raised $3000.00 thus far as a result of the generosity of family and friends. Although I started with the lofty goal of raising $8000.00, I have been able to find a publishing company that can produce a beautiful publication for much less than I had originally anticipated. As a result, I have decreased the amount needed to complete the first stage of this project. I am hoping to raise an additional $1,300-$2000 so I can print 2000-3000 copies of the publication. The publication will be distributed to the public and Georgia legislators for free. Please consider making a tax deductible donation to this project. If you are unable to make a donation at this time please forward the link to my website or blog to those you know who may be interested in this cause.
There are many supports available in our community that enhance the quality of life for individuals living with developmental disabilities. Unfortunately, supports are costly and many families have limited budgets. With state and federal funding, persons with developmental disabilities can access a variety of services. The photo above features a four-year-old boy receiving therapeutic equine riding lessons at Stride Ahead (http://www.strideahead.org/StrideAhead/Mane_Page.html). Pam Smith, the head instructor is featured on the right. Therapeutic riding at Stride Ahead provides individuals with a program that will “develop and strengthen muscle tone, core strength, coordination, and flexibility, as well as developing mental and emotional life skills such as focus, leadership, social skills, confidence, cooperation, and friendship.”
To make a tax deductible contribution to Real Stories, Real People visit the website at:
Rickey spends much of his day playing video games at home.
I am very grateful for the generosity of those who have donated to my project “Real Stories, Real People”. I will use these funds to create a publication that will be distributed to the public and Georgia policymakers free of charge. This publication will include the photo essays I am creating about individuals who are living with a developmental disability (DD) and their families and information about DDs. I have embarked on this project because Georgia is in a state of crisis as it pertains to funding and providing supports to individuals with a DD. There are over 7,500 people on the waiting list for a Medicaid waiver in Georgia and this past legislative session our policymakers appropriated funds for only 75 additional waivers. What this means is that people like Rickey Armstrong (blog post from April 14) risk loosing their lifeline to the community because they do not have the supports in place to ensure their success. Rickey has a job at Golden Corral, 12 hours a week, but has come close to loosing his job because he cannot consistently get to work. His family does not own a car, there is no public transportation in his community and it is difficult to rely on neighbors for a ride. If Rickey had a Medicaid waiver he would have access to supports that would provide transportation to work and supports to assist him in developing the skills he will need in order to live an independent and integrated life in his community. Without funding for supports, Rickey could potentially end up sitting on his couch for 12 hours a day playing video games. This is not a life.
Please support my project so I can be the voice for the thousands of people in Georgia who are living with a DD and who are in dire need of funding for supports. Educating the public and Georgia policymakers is paramount in creating change. You can help! To make a tax-deductible donation please connect to the link below.
“We have an incredible family life but it is a very fragile one. Any significant event to either of us puts the entire family at great risk. We struggle to keep up with the daily routine. As Diane and I transition from middle to old age, we will not be able to continue being caregivers with any effectiveness. Unless programs and funding are in place, our family’s story does not have a happy ending.”
Pat and Diane Stewart
View the full story at http://www.realstoriesrealpeople.org/aaron-and-ryan/.
The Stewart Family story embodies all the challenges that families face when caring for a child with a developmental disability. Their story is a complex one for several reasons, one of which is that Pat and Diane are caregivers to two grown sons. Pat and Diane live with emotional, physical and financial challenges that most people cannot even begin to fathom. They have been the sole caregivers to Aaron and Ryan for almost 22 years and have never received any funding for support. In addition, Aaron is aging out of high school in one month and without support services and a plan in place he is at risk for living a life of isolation. Despite the challenges these parents face, Pat and Diane are not only concerned for the future of their sons but also the future of all persons who are living a with a disability. As Pat and Diane struggle to keep their heads above water they are thinking about ways they can advocate within their community to ensure that all citizens have the opportunity to live meaningful and productive lives.