I met with Aengus’ Mom, Mikayla, to discuss their experience with the Self-Determination Program. When asked what her goals were for her son with this new program, Mikayla shared, “Our goal is to make him as independent as possible. We want him to have the best life after we are gone and make sure he has a great support base for himself. We want Aengus to have a community so that he can be independent, be happy, and fulfilled. I feel that Self-Determination will help with this.”
Mikayla continued, “Our main goal was to help him have a bigger social life and have a sense of community,” They hoped to accomplish this by widening his interaction with others. One way they meet this goal is through staff they hire to take Aengus swimming. He loves swimming so much and is now enrolled in a gym so he can swim year-round.
One of the special features of Self-Determination is that you are more in control of your destiny. You get to hire your own staff and support workers. In considering whom to choose, Mikayla said, “[Select] someone you can trust with your child and give them new experiences. Having great staff can add to your child’s experience, as each person they work with has something unique and special to share.”
The Self-Determination experience allows parents a unique opportunity to use their child’s interests as a teaching tool. “You can use anything they are interested in to teach different things. Now with the personalized support that is available, this learning can come from a trip to the museum, an hour at the gym, or it can come from whatever your child wants it to be! The services are geared to exactly what support and help your child needs them to be.”
If you are interested in learning more about if The Self-Determination Program is right for you (or your child), notify your service coordinator of your interest in getting involved. You can also attend an orientation that goes over the program and gives you a chance to get answers to any questions you may have. After that, you will schedule a time to meet with an Agency that will help you create a Liberty Plan. This Liberty Plan will assist you in discovering hopes, dreams, or goals for your (or your child’s) life. Anybody important to you (or your child) in your life can attend this meeting. For Aengus, Mikayla felt including his Special Ed Teacher would be the support Aengus needed to communicate his goals.
Besides the benefits already mentioned, when I asked Mikayla why she would recommend this program for others she said, “It helps parents financially I think, and it helps parents emotionally.” Imagine how nice it is to be able to enroll your children in such things as Summer Camps that you previously could never afford. In addition, the emotional relief of knowing that your child is being fully supported. In summary, Mikayla said, “It’s a great program and we are super lucky to have it.”
Just as a well-built bridge needs lots of support on both ends, Aengus is building a bridge to a bright and successful future.