The next part of his talk focused on how we support these adults and he gave us real world examples of how to pull them back into the community.

First he said that we have to ask them what they want. When his company receives a new client they are given a folder filled with all the negative things about the person they are going to take on. They take this file and they put it aside… they want to focus on the person.

The sit down with their client and they make a “Liberty Plan”. Here the client expresses what they are interested in, how they want to interact with the community, and what their hopes and dreams are. The community is also apart of this process. They contribute by telling the person how they see them. All the good qualities they bring to the community.

Based on this Plan, they built a team around them to help support them within the community. These team-members were not there for a short time either. Most of them work with these individuals for years and were usually experts in whichever area that person was interested in. So if Bob wanted to learn to surf- they would hire someone who was proficient at surfing. If he wanted to learn to ski they would hire professional skiers to take him out.

He profiled a few of his clients: Here are two examples

Joaquin was placed into an institution by state officials. According to them he was a danger to his community and because of his severe epilepsy, he could have a seizer at any time while he was out and about.

The community however longed for him to rejoin them. With Joaquins sister leading the charge it took them 3 years of court hearings but they finally allowed him to return to his sister and to the town.

So what did they do for him?

They created an Essential Lifestyle Plan. Allowing him a choice in what his day to day looked like, how he could give back, and participate in his community.

Joaquin was active. He loved to walk. They found him a job with the city cleaning up parks.

Because of his seizures several places and work staff agreed to carry a (Vagus Nerve Stimulation wand) on them in case he needed them.

Joaquin was bad with money so the local store agreed to just keep a tab for him that he would pay at the end of the month.

Joaquin loved to go fast. His neighbor rides a motorcycle and every Sunday he and Jaquine go on an hour-long ride together.

His life was fulfilled. When you live a fulfilled life problem behaviors subside.  

So here he is, within his community, living a full life, and not harming anyone, but adding value to those around him.

Then he profiled another client.

Another person who was placed within an institution named Jeremy.

Jeremy has autism, is non-verbal, socially inappropriate and combative. It was believed that Jeremy would never be able to live on his own and would need total support for the rest of his life.

Once they got Jeremy out of the institution they started to ask him what he wanted and built his Essential Lifestyle Plan.

He set his goals and started to work to active them.

He gave his high school commencement speech, lives on his own in Del Mar at an apartment, has a book: A Full Life with Autism, and was on MTV’s True Life: I Have Autism.

He travels the world as a public speaker, using his iPad to communicate, makes a living commissioning art for people, is a member of Autistic Global Initiative and is a representative to the United Nations.

This man who no one thought could achieve anything.

Who was basically told he would be living in a group home with 4 other people and total support his whole life.

Now he is an inspiration to all.

So what stops people with disabilities from living a full life?

The barriers to real lives are the myths that we choose to believe!

And that all of us must break down these barriers. Whether you have a special needs child or not. Start advocating and start treating others as equals.

He left us with this quote:

“Now we understand a simple but significant truth: the third way is not a path of high heroism reserved for the likes of Gandhi and King. It is a path that can, and must, be walked by motrals like you and me.” Parker Palmer

I know I am ready to take action.

I hope you are too.