Testifying to benefits received through Agape of Appleton, has in many ways echoed the approach taken by both my wife and I throughout our autistic son Niels' life, fighting for and recognizing his abilities and needs. It's a struggle as it is for any developmentally disabled individual and their families. But bottom line, such accountability along with its redundancy has proven to be quite rewarding. It certainly isn't comforting to wonder what the outcome would have been if not for the well-trained, qualified staff of this fine non-profit organization.
A respectable argument could have been made for our son's institutionalization throughout much of his life, but there were also convincing arguments against such a course being taken. We as parents saw within our son an intellectual ability greatly hampered by social awareness and behavioral issues. Sadly, these behavioral setbacks compounded with the fact our son was now 32 years of age, became compelling reasons of persuasion that we would all fade into a sense of oblivion if qualified help was not sought after.
There may be some irony in the fact that through the danger posed by our son's aggressiveness, we were, through the Department of Health & Human Services, referred to Agape. Given the choices it would have been outright self-deception not to have taken the critical step needed. Time passes, the names change, but the most important factor is the growing realization without the benefits Agape has provided for our son, we as parents would never have been able to attain his maximum functioning level and enhance the concept of self-worth he now has achieved. Though still vulnerable, in the 10 years that have passed, there reflects a vast broadening in our son's ability to not only cope with his disability, but to expand his horizons. Through supports of Agape, he resides in a supportive residential setting, and has become a productive citizen, working at Valley Packaging Industries of Appleton.
Though there are serious shortcomings that should be addressed regarding continual budget cuts by the State Legislator while group homes continue to disappear, I hope this short testimonial offers a window to the past with what is, in effect, a reflection which mirrors just how important the need for agencies such as Agape truly are. My wife and I feel a great debt of gratitude, and would like to thank everybody associated with Agape for continuing to provide the help our son needs.
Q: What do you like best about Agape's services?
A: They are always there to help when help is needed. Staff has been supportive and has pushed me to stay independent.
Q: How would you describe Agape staff?
A: They stick with you through thick and thin. They are friendly, helpful, very patient, and knowledgeable.
Q: How would you describe the home where you live?
A: It was built for wheelchairs. I don't have any trouble getting around.
Q: What have you gained from Agape services?
A: They have helped me through different times in life and provided the help I needed. I have been able to get involved in playing cribbage and working out at the Y. I have made a lot of friends.
Q: What do you want others to know about Agape?
A: Agape has been very supportive and has helped me reach my goals.
Bob has been provided support by Agape of Appleton since 1975. Bob lived in one of Agape's first group homes. Later, he lived in one of Agape's Sheltered Apartment Programs and now in his own apartment.
Bob's "dream" has always been to be able to live independently in his own apartment. Bob is now realizing his dream and moved into his own apartment in 2007.
When asked how he was able to fulfill his dream, his response was: "My seizures kept me from living on my own. I was having many hard seizures and had to take lots of medication - 16 pills a day. For the past 8 years I have not had any seizures. I owe a lot to my doctors who helped me find the right medications. Also, I was never able to hold my temper, and now I can. My RCM(Residential Case Manager) has helped me with that."
Bob's advice to others who have dreams they want to fulfill - "Keep trying and never give up. Have faith in yourself. Don't be a quitter."