Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) has offices in Kearny Mesa at 4740 Murphy Canyon Rd., in Escondido and Temecula. http://www.tmi-inc.org/cms/. They offer two types of services for our adults, Supported Employment, group programs and Integrated Work Program which is individual placement. Typically all of their groups work but given the economic climate in San Diego they do their best to find places to volunteer. We visited one of these groups.
We lucked into connecting with a group. Patrick’s buddy aged out of TRACE shortly after Christmas. His parents put him into a group with TMI. It was a scary transition for him and his family. Not only has he survived, he has grown to enjoy going to “work” each day. It’s a positive experience for him.
This friend lives near our house. Patrick and he enjoy hanging out together. It would be nice for them to be in a group together. One of the other dudes in his buddy’s group is also from our neighborhood. With the three of them in a group they could spend more time here locally in our community. We the parents could team together and have more input into their daily activities, like getting them to workout at the gym. It seemed like an ideal situation.
We moms got together and started emailing the folks at TMI, Kim Burrows firstname.lastname@example.org and Lisa Green email@example.com. I asked if it would be possible for Patrick to join his buddies group and the other guy who lived in a different neighborhood might be able to join a group in his own neighborhood. It seemed like an improvement for everyone.
Kim Burrows was particularly patient in helping me understand the process of moving into a new group. TMI’s groups are set up to include 3 adults of varying functioning levels. They want the aides to not have more than one person per group that needs extra support. To figure this out they need to see Patrick’s file from the Regional Center to determine if Patrick, his buddy and this other dude in our neighborhood would be the right fit together. Pre-viewing the documents is common practice. Without committing to their program, we had our Regional Center Service Coordinator to send a copy of Patrick’s records to TMI . They looked at his records and determined that these three guys would be fine together.
If you would like to move into one of TMI’s groups and there is not an appropriate space available, at your location or at your adult’s functioning level, you can get onto their waiting list. If there is not an opening in a group TMI would have to form a new group. They would ask for referrals from Trace and from SDRC. Until they are able to form a group of 3, you would remain on the wait list. It is really hard to say how long someone could remain on wait list. It could be days, weeks or months. It all depends on receiving new referrals or changes happening within groups they already have.
The last thing was the visit. Group schedules run from 8:30am to 2:30 pm. Aide’s pick up and drop off our adults at your house. We met up with the group one morning at the YMCA where they go three times a week to volunteer cleaning toys for the nursery. They wiped down toys with cloths. Patrick helped. He didn’t question if the job was too easy or boring. The YMCA has been a part of his life forever. He was immediately comfortable.
After the Y the group went to have lunch at a fast food shop in Pacific Beach. They go to fast food restaurants every day but are limited in the number of sodas they can buy each week. Where they eat doesn’t really matter to Patrick, he brings his lunch all but one day a week.
After lunch the group went to Pacific Beach library. They go there and clean books usually. They also get onto the computers there and look up things are the Internet or play games. Patrick loves the library. The aide suggested they might try going to the Point Loma library again since all of the adults in the group would be from that area. The PB library is busy with many groups rotating through.
Once a week they go to an Alzheimer’s Home and help serve lunch. Patrick’s buddy particularly enjoys this activity. He enjoys talking to the people in the lunchroom. They serve lunch and help clean up. All and all the schedule seemed very much like what Patrick does at TRACE everyday. He would have no problem transitioning.
The aide was nice and personable. She seemed amenable to helping with whatever behavior issues that would surface (they always do). The other kid was quiet, but he could talk and read. It’s hard to say how the dynamics of the group would go. You know how it is when you first meet people, everything seems so nice, like they do at IEPs. Everyone says nice things and has good intentions but the exercise classes never come. He never gets to college… New beginnings bring out the best intentions but the reality is still to unfold. Having been burned in IEPs that I walked out of elated, I’m keeping my reservations.
Bottom line, this particular group situation with TMI and Patrick’s buddy is the best it’s going to get for him. He would have a great time. As far as I can tell, the only way we are going to get Patrick transported in this Special Needs adult world is through a group situation. This is it. This woman would come pick him up starting June. He could hang out all day with his buddy , like they did in TRACE. Something just didn’t seem right for him.
It should have been a slam-dunk decision, but I can’t let go of that nagging inside me for him to go to community college. In the alternative, maybe we could find him a job at Vons or something near our house. I could drive him to Mesa and he could learn to take the MTS Access bus home. It seems wrong to sell his dreams all for a ride. How can I live with myself without giving the other things a try? I don’t know any of the realities, but I think I have to start big (school, job). If it doesn’t work, it’s okay (says the mother of an autistic child who hates transitions) we can try something else!!!!
Photo from google docs.