This story comes to us from Deanna Gadjen, mother of Jesse Gadjen, in honor of Autism Awareness Month.
This story is about my 21 year old son, Jesse. He was diagnosed with Autism when he was 3. He is non-verbal with many behaviors. This has resulted in many difficulties with socialization in school and in the community. Writing Jesse's IEPs have been challenging because of the behaviors. We have had to look outside the box and come up with different ideas for him. It has been a collaboration of family, friends, school personnel, behaviorist, and his case manager.
This journey began when Jesse was in First Steps and now he is in his last year of High School.
Jesse's Case Manager, Carol, from IPMG, has been a part of his life since First Steps.
Jesse now rents his own house and has 2 roommates. His home is staffed 24 hours a day. Jesse has a daily schedule that the staff help him to follow. He gets help taking care of himself and getting his chores done. There are 3 staff members that are more involved in his daily life.
They treat Jesse like a little brother and a friend. He really seems to like hanging out with them. They help him at school and take him out in the community. They take him bowling, to the library, out to restaurants, to the YMCA, walking in the park, and swimming in the summer.
Years ago, I could not have imagined Jesse having a life like this. Looking into the future then, I saw him living with me. I never thought he would have anyone to interact with but me and his grandmother. I was wrong! Jesse has adjusted to living in his own house with other people without any major issues. We made sure Jesse had his favorite things - his books, stuffed animals, and his Disney movies. This made him feel at home. We could not have done this without the help of Carol from IPMG. She has connected us to people and programs in the community. She keeps his team focused on the right path for him. It really does take a village to make things happen.