Easterseals Arc is dedicated to helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities succeed at home and in the community. No other local organization offers as many choices—from residential support to day programs to employment services to respite.
Pam Porter’s job is helping families in which a child has just been diagnosed with autism live with the newfound reality of a disability.
“All parents, when you get the diagnosis, are in denial,” she said. “Even once you get the diagnosis, it just begins the journey, a lifetime journey.”
Porter is one of two community mentors who, through the Parents Taking Action program of Easterseals Arc, work with families who are learning to live with autism. She well understands the journey.
Luke taps the screen of an iPad, and a tiny machine voice chirps, “fish crackers.” Easterseals Arc staff member Danielle Jones gives him a yellow cracker shaped like a fish. Luke pops it into his mouth.
To a stranger, it might seem like a small moment, but it represents the culmination of a couple of months’ learning. For Luke, 28, it’s an important step into the world of words.
Ralph keeps McDonald’s scrupulously clean. Three days a week, from mid-morning to early afternoon, Ralph works a steady circuit around all the public areas of the restaurant on Coliseum Boulevard.
Mostly he enjoys the work, he says. But that work is not an end in itself. Working at McDonald’s is a step toward a bigger goal for Ralph, 55. “I’m going to move out on my own,” he says.
Aaron and RiChard play like their lives depend on it. No wonder. The quality of life does depend on bursts of fun amid daily routines, and these two are superstars of play.
Not that they’re all play. By day, Aaron attends the Transitions program at Easterseals Arc, where he explores learning, employment and volunteer possibilities. RiChard is now in the Employment Readiness Academy at Parkview Hospital Randallia.
But these best friends shine brightest when they team up to have fun.