The compassion shines through in her smile. Autumn smiles a lot.
Autumn’s mom, Patty, says the most amazing thing about her daughter is her compassion for others. She has been that way ever since she was a young girl. “If I ever said I had a headache she would come and rub my shoulders. She’s just so caring.” Autumn was diagnosed at a young age with a severe developmental disability. Patty recalls Autumn’s childhood years as being rather uneventful. She lived at home and attended special education throughout her school age years.
That’s why she was surprised to receive a call one day that Autumn, now fourteen, had had a violent outburst while riding on the van home from school. Something had changed. No one seemed to know for sure what had changed. The outbursts continued on and off for several years and created a lot of instability with Autumn’s living situation. Finding the right living arrangement and appropriate level of support was a challenge. Between age 16 and 18, Autumn moved ten times, making it very difficult for her mom to visit and to ever get a sense that Autumn would find a place to call home.
Autumn moved to LBSA when she was 18. “When she first moved in” Patty recalled, “there was a lot of ‘I want to go home.’” Because Autumn moved so frequently, her mom was not initially hopeful that her placement at LBSA would last. Those years of moving from place to place, left Patty a bit skeptical that Autumn would ever find an appropriate living situation. However, after the first couple of months at LBSA had passed, and Autumn began to settle in to her new environment, Autumn’s mom sensed things were different this time. “It’s like a burden had lifted,” she recalled. “I thought to myself, this is her home now.”
Autumn’s mom attributes her daughter’s success at LBSA to the quality of the staff. “Zelene (Household Director Zelene Castano) is just absolutely fabulous.” She adds, “All the staff here are great. They are willing to do what they need to do to take care of clients. They are very loving people.” Patty visits Autumn weekly and over the years has gotten to know staff and the other clients in Autumn’s house. “It feels like a family here.” In addition to social visits, Autumn’s mom attends care conferences every six months with LBSA staff and Autumn’s care team. Every six weeks she attends meetings with LBSA behavior analyst, Jim Bowen, and her doctor. “We discuss adjustments that need to be made and how she’s doing. It reminds me that people care.”
Autumn is now 23 and has a lot of interests and activities. She enjoys socializing with staff and her housemates, doing puzzles, attending LBSA events, going for walks and she loves music. Autumn especially enjoys group music sessions with music therapist, Jenny Solar. Jenny describes Autumn as a leader in her music group. “She loves picking songs and she just loves to sing.” Patty is content that her daughter has activities she enjoys, friends to be with, and has a place to call home.
On a Saturday afternoon, Autumn is sitting in a chair in her living room. Her mother is there. Her housemates are there. Zelene is there. Gerardo (aka “G,” one of her favorite staff members) is there.
Autumn is smiling. Everyone else is too.