Most families who require ongoing support for their children with special needs choose to continue their relationship with May Institute beyond their son or daughter’s graduation from one of our schools at age 22. These young adults transition directly into our state-of-the-art day programs, and/or one of our more than 100 group homes, ensuring a seamless continuum of care. Ty’s experience is an example of this transition to young adulthood at May Institute.
Life takes all of us through a series of transitions. Change can be exciting, it can be challenging – often it is both. One of the first and most significant transitions takes us from adolescence to young adulthood. We graduate and then go on to whatever comes next. Maybe a job, a different place to live, or more schooling. This is just as true for children with special needs at May Institute, where the age of 22 is the dividing line between adolescence and adult life.
Ty’s entry into the adult world was a carefully planned transition that his family and his May Center Family Services team, along with representatives from the Department of Developmental Services, worked on for many years. The journey began when he was 16. His Individualized Education Program (IEP) and Transition Planning meetings began to focus on preparing him for his transition into the adult world. It was then that his father, Dan, began considering adult programs for Ty.
“The really important thing for him was to be active and happy,” says Dan. “More than anything, he just needed to be safe, happy, and healthy, and have as good a life as possible. And he certainly needed 24/7 care like he had at May.”
For Dan, the decision was easy. “I already knew all the people from the May Institute day program pretty well. He had been there for a while. I knew the residential staff too. And they all knew Ty pretty well. They’re all dedicated, a really great group of people. He’s happy to go to the house where he lives. He’s connected to the people there.”
So, when Ty turned 22, he graduated from a May Center school and smoothly transitioned into our adult services. Today he is a happy, well-adjusted 25-year-old who lives in a May Institute residence and attends our day habilitation program in Randolph, Mass. Ty, along with three of his housemates, attend the day habilitation center six hours a day, five days a week.
“He’s a great guy,” says Developmental Specialist Amanda Peters, who works at the day program. “He’s a lot of fun, but also very responsible and helpful. Every morning he makes sure the other guys from his house have their lunches when they get dropped off at the center.”
At the day program, Ty works on individualized goals that have included: slowing down while eating (to avoid choking); answering “WH” questions (who, what, when, where); increasing appropriate communication (speaking quietly and respectfully); and exercising regularly.
He did very well with all of his goals last year, according to Amanda. “Ty worked on answering multiple choice ‘WH’ questions using an iPad, and brought his score up from the 50th percentile to almost the 75th percentile. He caught on quite quickly, and was able to log into the iPad on his own, which was great.”
Ty also made steady improvement with his communication and exercise goals during the course of the year. He increased the number of times he made requests quietly and respectfully every day. His regular exercise routine included working on a slanted board, jumping jacks, hamstring stretches, squats, and walking. Ty’s goals for the coming year are to work on expressing his wants and needs in complete sentences; increase the number of times he exercises every week; and continue working on slowing down while eating.
As a member of the day program’s cleaning crew, Ty helps clean the cafeteria, wiping down tables and counter tops. He works independently, with minimal staff prompting. In his leisure time, Ty enjoys using an iPad. He is able to enter the password code on his own and use a number of applications with very little assistance from the staff.
He also loves music and enjoys participating in sessions with the music therapist who visits the day program each week. “Ty is a great singer. He catches on to song lyrics with interesting beats and rhythm. He sings every thing from 90s hits to modern day hip hop,” says Kaylee Hargreaves, Director of Day Services. “The staff members enjoy his singing and are amazed and delighted at the musicality and expressiveness of his singing.”
May’s staff and programs play a vital role in helping Ty achieve the things that his father has always wanted for him, what all parents want for their children: to be safe, happy, healthy, and to have a good life.
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