If you spend a day (or a week) following Tyler, you’d better be sure you’ve got on some comfortable shoes because you’re going to be on the move. Tyler loves having the space and freedom to go for walks. Whether that’s at a local recreation center, in the multi-purpose room at our Palos Adult Services campus, or as a part of a 5k walk/run.
Over the years, a growing group of friends and family (as many as 40-50 people) have joined in and supported Tyler as part of Elim’s annual 5K event!
Almost 13 years ago, when Tyler was a sophomore in high school, his parents began a search for a school that could better provide the support he needed. Fortunately, Tyler’s mom had worked in special education for many years, which helped her in her search for and the evaluation of the best place for Tyler. In the midst of that search and in conversation with others, Elim’s name kept rising to the top. Not long after, Tyler started attending Elim’s school and later transitioned to Adult Community Day Services where he discovered new opportunities as a part of our ACTS program (for persons with autism).
For Adult Services in general (and for our ACTS program in particular) there is a strong emphasis on community engagements, getting adults and students out into the community as much as possible so that they can be exposed to a variety of situations and tackle some of the day-to-day challenges they may encounter along the way. Each new experience is another opportunity to achieve another level of growth and success. When asked about the kind of community outings Tyler goes on, one of his teachers responded, “What doesn’t he go on?” If there is a community outing, Tyler is almost always on it. Shopping or out to eat? Tyler is there. A trip to the park or to the recreation center? Tyler is in. Sky Zone (an indoor trampoline park) or the movies? Tyler is all in.
Tyler, like many of us, feels most comfortable on outings when surrounded by family and friends. These experiences (going to new and unfamiliar places with staff and classmates) are opportunities for him to be stretched, and he has stepped up to the plate each and every time.
Trips into the community become the helpful stepping stones for the next experience. Regarding Tyler’s activities out in the community, his mother said, “The more experiences he has, the better equipped he is for new challenges and experiences he may come across in the future.” Many times when Tyler is going into a brand new situation, his parents will remind him of his other successful outings. By finding comparisons between a brand new situation and a past situation, Tyler can then reach into his personal toolbox of skills he has mastered and put them to work.
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