New connections to community
It’s clear from the way William Walker teaches and plays his favourite card game, Magic the Gathering, that he is a kind, generous and empathetic person. The challenge for William is feeling comfortable connecting with others socially, which impacts his life on all levels. It’s one reason why his family applied to CLBC in 2010 to get support through the Personalized Supports Initiative (PSI).
His application was accepted in October 2010, and by November 8, William was working with a support worker from South Island Community Connections, James Cowan. Prior to working with James, William spent his days isolated and alone in his room. Working together, James and William have established goals for exercise, connecting with community resources, building life skills, like cooking and cleaning, and finding ways to celebrate William’s abilities while building towards his goal of a broader social network.
“Everyone has a different cognitive style, and my job is to help William connect with others in a way that celebrates his unique cognitive ability,” says James. “William has so many skills on which to build.”
Through the PSI and based on his CLBC plan, William has become a regular at one of the comic and game shops in downtown Victoria, where staff are getting to know him and where he can play cards with others who share his interests. He is taking his first steps towards employment by connecting with Transition Youth Employment Services (TYES) to start assessing his skills and to help him prepare for employment. He is also working on learning how to make healthier lifestyle choices, and becoming more self-sufficient.
“I’m interested in working with computers, and creating and designing games,” says William. “That would be my ultimate job.”
William’s family is pleased with the progress seen in the three months he has been involved with PSI, and with the trust and working relationship that’s been established with James. As with many families, one of their main concerns has been making sure William has enough skills to live more independently when they are gone.
“William has had some real challenges coming out of high school, and not knowing how to take his next steps into the world,” says his father Mark. “We’re seeing progress already through the PSI. He now comes and participates socially with the family and with friends.”
“We are really pleased with the progress William has made,” says his mother Trish. “We want him to be independent but we also want him to be happy, and to have relationships that make him happy.”
Trish and Mark also feel it’s important that schools and doctors have a greater awareness and knowledge about Autism so children and youth get appropriate support early in their development (William was not diagnosed until he was a teenager). PSI is helping reach this goal by facilitating partnerships with school districts, health authorities and other community partners.
For more information on the Personalized Supports Initiative, please visit www.communitylivingbc.ca and go to Individuals & Families > Personalized Supports Initiative, or contact your local CLBC office.
To connect with South Island Community Connections through the Sooke Family Resource Society, please visit www.sfrs.ca.