I have been working as Michael’s Service Coordinator with The Resource Exchange for six months. When I met with Michael and his mother, GerriAnne, for the first time in November 2015, they told me Michael had slowly stopped going into the community over the past three years. He will get into the car when his mother needs to run errands or take him to an appointment, but Michael will not leave the car. His mother said it has taken up to five hours to get him to leave the car to go into an appointment, so the doctor will now meet with Michael in the parking lot.
Michael and his mother communicate with each another via walkie talkies when she is in a store. She will often invite a friend or a family member to go with them so they can sit with Michael when she has to leave him in the car for an appointment. Michael will go to visit family or go for long drives, but he will not leave the car. If they have a picnic he will stay in the car.
Michael reportedly stopped going out into the community due to how he was treated by people. He stated he would get made fun of and people would stare at him as he walked past.
Michael enjoyed going bowling years ago, and he told the team that he would like to go bowling again. Michael overcame his anxiety and decided to go bowling last Saturday. When I asked him what made him change his mind, Michael said, “I said to myself, let’s just try it! And so I did.” His mother is his supported community provider, and she witnessed him bowling for the first time in years.
She said Michael had girls cheering for him as he threw the ball down the lane, and that he enjoyed dancing to the music that was playing during cosmic bowling. Michael loved bowling so much, that he even went for the second time a week later! I went to go cheer him on as he overcame his anxieties and fears. It is something so simple, but a huge achievement for Michael.
This is what makes working in this field so rewarding; to watch these participants overcome barriers and achieve their full potential.