Caleb was having trouble finding services that fit his needs. “I wasn’t getting very many benefits because none of what they had was really working for me,” Caleb explained. Fortunately, The Self Determination Program was the right match of services and support that he had been searching for – the perfect fit! In Caleb’s own words, “I felt relieved. I felt that finally, my needs were being met and I would have more help with life. And not being able to function in a society made and controlled by neuro-typical people.”
Caleb is using his newfound freedom to launch his own blacksmithing business. He creates knives, tools and even has plans to make letter openers. The money that he received from the program has helped him acquire everything he needed including a forge, tools, and even paint for his new shop that is able to withstand high temperatures. “Right now I’m working on building up an inventory for when we open up the business. Through this program, we have been able to hire people to help me figure out the business aspects of it like registering my business, dealing with taxes and all that kind of stuff,” Caleb said.
In the future, Caleb hopes to have his own logo that he can brand on his products. He is also hoping to help grow his business contacts and opportunities. Caleb shared, “My goals are to open a business to sell the things that I’ve been making and do that for a living and have an easier time with life and enjoy myself while I’m doing it because it is enjoyable most of the time.”
During our interview, he gladly gave me a tour of his shop and demonstrated how to make a knife from a railroad spike. He heated up the spike until it was glowing orange and then pounded the metal into a blade.
Caleb is grateful for his Service Coordinator that put him on this path. Caleb is thankful for the help he receives now to pursue his goals and to go about it at his own pace. At the close of our interview, I asked if the Self Determination Program was working for him. He said, “Definitely. It’s been very helpful for me as far as the aspects of my life that are really impacted by me being on the spectrum. They help with other things too. It’s not just blacksmithing. I can’t drive so there’s support set up for me to have drivers and to do Uber which is very helpful. He continued, “It’s been tremendously helpful and I have a lot less stress and I feel I have a way to move forward with my life that I didn’t have before. I am very appreciative that this came about and that people figured out more ways to help more people.”