25-year-old Ryan Stringer loves going to movies, hanging out with friends, and dancing to live music.
Ryan also lives with Fragile X syndrome, an intellectual and developmental disability he was diagnosed with at 4 ½ years old. His mom, Ginger, was adamant Ryan be included in typical classes throughout his elementary education in a world not made for people with disabilities.
Ryan knows what he wants, just ask his high school Spanish teacher. Not wanting to fail her student, she told Ginger she wasn’t sure she could successfully teach Ryan the language, but he insisted he wanted to learn it. Two weeks into class, however, she flew down to the principal’s office, stunned, saying, “he is speaking Spanish!”
Ryan continued into higher education and graduated from UCCS in May 2022 through the Office of Inclusive Services. He began as a banquet server at The Broadmoor soon thereafter and now volunteers part time at TRE’s new coworking space, New Altitude, once a week.
Ryan is ready one hour before he is supposed to report for work. He stocks shelves, organizes supplies, and helps at events. Ginger says Ryan’s involvement at New Altitude has given him a sense of responsibility and importance. “We all want to feel needed and valuable. Ryan feels needed and successful. He feels accepted and appreciated by Jenn.”
Jenn Strehlow is New Altitude’s Director of Operations and adds, “He holds me accountable. Ryan also reminds me of things that I would have otherwise forgotten, and it’s so much more enjoyable completing tasks with someone else rather than doing them alone.”
Ginger is no stranger to the challenges faced by parents who have walked the same path she has. She is TRE’s Physician and Community Outreach Specialist and has worked with TRE since 2009. Ryan receives case management services through TRE and was enrolled in its Family Support Program in 2002. Ginger’s knowledge and personal experiences are invaluable when relating to other TRE families who are overwhelmed by a complex system.
Ginger says, “If we allow people with disabilities to reach for the same goals we all have and provide the support to help them get there – they WILL reach the goal. I think the focus for those with disabilities has been on all they cannot do and won’t be able to do rather than watch and see all that they CAN do.”