Making Independence Possible
Families of individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities struggle to find the right living arrangement for our loved ones. Options include living at home with parents, in a group home, independently with support or totally on their own, As families of individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, we looked at these options but wanted something different for our young adults.
We wanted an option where our young adults can live in a close-knit community of their peers. Where they can live in their own apartment. Where they can live close enough to a coffee shop or the grocery store to simply walk there with their friends. Where they can experience some independence, but with appropriate supports. Where they have opportunities for recreation, physical fitness and learning. Where they can hold a good job because they have access to reliable transportation. Where we can allow them to experience daily life without us, but where we still have a meaningful role in their lives.
There was not an option like this in Central Texas, so we formed it!
"At the start of each of my classes, regardless of the subject matter of the course, I have the students “check-in” or share about what’s happened in their lives since we last saw one another. One reason I think that post-secondary opportunities are so important for adults with disabilities is because the vast majority of the students in my UT classes generally say that all that they’ve done in the week span between us seeing one another is “stay home and watch television”. Many students, sadly, have very limited social interactions or new experiences after they age out of school. However, to my delight, the participants from AIM always blow me away with how full and independent their lives are outside of my class. They have jobs, they take initiative to do things in the community independently with their friends. The running joke after an AIM student had regaled us with their account of their past week was “why didn’t you invite me?” As a twenty something myself, their day to day life closely mirrors my own. From cookouts at their apartment to pool parties to supporting one another at their respective jobs, these individuals are living the sort of fully realized ADULT lives I hope all people of all levels and abilities, experience."
~ Lucy Barber, UT Informal Education Instructor
Thank you to Sydney Fedora and Cody McCrary for producing the 2014 and 2015 videos!
Check back for updates! A new video by Mark Baird will begin production in Spring 2018
"Blake has been involved with AIM for multiple years in preparation for his move to supported independence. He has seen his fellow AIMer friends get jobs, move into their own apartments, contribute to society and lead full adult lives. In addition, Blake has been witness to his older sister’s life progression. He knows once she finished school she moved out of the family home, got a job and leads a busy life. Now that Blake has finished the 21+ transition program at his school, he has blossomed as he prepares for apartment living. It seems like overnight he matured and became fully-engaged in his continued life skills learning. He doesn’t complain anymore as he works through his daily chore chart, he has done amazingly well with making healthy choices in his diet and exercise, he chooses recipes from the AIM Cookbook (designed for individuals with IDD) and prepares family meals, he is working on budgeting and the use of his debit card, he currently works 22 hours/week at a paid job and works at home on job tasks that need improvement, but mostly he enjoys AIM events with his friends and the community he hopes to join.
The best part of this…….he does it all with a big smile on his face. He is proud of himself and we are proud of him!"
~ Blake's Family
""Where were you today? You missed the Hot Dog Party!” This is one of the comments I have been privileged to hear while facilitating a Monday night AIM group. It is obvious that these young ladies have a close relationship, much like sisters. Sometimes they call each other out: “How many sodas have you had today?” “Why are you not going to our dance class?”
Most of the time, however, they are all very supportive of each other. When one is sharing the good news of receiving a pin at work for her one-year anniversary, the others are quick to respond, “Great job!” They make plans and attend events that they can walk to together. One of the most recent was a music festival. They walk as a group, watching out for each other.
Recently the apartment community hosted a Fire Safety seminar. Several attended this informational activity. At the beginning of the presentation one young lady jumped up and said that she forgot that it was her turn to make dinner for her roommate! She quickly disappeared to her apartment. Later she returned to the presentation after preparing dinner. This level of responsibility illustrates her commitment to her roommate and her knowledge of schedules.
These young ladies are truly “living their best life.” They are able to live on their own with limited support; they are all employed with meaningful jobs, and they all have caring and supportive relationships with each other!"
~ Laura Barnes, Monday Group Facilitator
AIM extends our deepest gratitude to The Mission Project in Kansas. Their model has served as our inspiration and their help and guidance have made our jobs considerably easier as we strive to build a similar community in Central Texas.