The Right To BE…

Most often with the work I do, connections with people are only for a short time, and then they move on with their journey.  Where possible, I like to later touch base and check in to see how they are and what they are doing; these moments to me, are similar to having a sequel to a favorite movie be released, or an additional chapter added into a favorite book…and often, these moments just need to be shared.

I would like to tell you about Justin and his mom Susan.I met them 4 years ago when, in Justin’s words, he was forced by mom to enter the TIFS program…he also adds though that he saw it was something  he had to do so that he could experience what it was like to really be out on his own.  Mom Susan admits to having a large amount of fear, and constantly asked herself “how will he manage this, how will he cope”, but knew it was the best for him and their family…that it was time for him to build his own life.  She hoped too, that it would help her to trust his judgements, and to “wean him off his need to have me so involved.”

Added to this was Susan’s conflicting desire of wanting to protect him, “over-protective” she calls it, saying that she “almost took away his right to make choices and decisions because I didn’t trust him to do this [make good choices], I needed to control it. “ She explains that she knew this was a personal issue she had, not Justin, and that she had to overcome it.

During his time in TIFS, Justin says he was encouraged to go past his comfort level, and take responsibility for things he normally would wait and let mom handle.  It was recognised early on that Justin already had significant abilities; he just had to become more confident in taking ownership of them and the choices he wanted to make.

When asked about if they felt TIFS was successful for them, Justin stated that it “helped with learning to make better choices” and it built his confidence, and to confirm his direction in life.  Susan answered that “nothing bad happened, he didn’t burn down the building, and he didn’t run from it screaming”, and that yes it was successful as it “laid the foundation for him to believe in himself”.

Now 4 years later, Justin has been living in his own apartment for just over two years.  He likes to be, and is, busy with a job he is enjoying, his friends, and family.  He also now receives some assistance through Employment Supports and Supported Independent Living, and is clear when he states that he is grateful for this as he knows without them he “would give it a good try but would probably only last a few months”.  Mom’s feelings are that having supports allows her to be, in her words, just a mom…having supports “allows a parent the opportunity to stop being the parent of a dependent child, and to just be a parent of an independent adult.”  Both admit that there have been mistakes, poor choices made, but Justin feels he is definitely learning from them and Susan states that mistakes are “a part of growing up and learning… I went through it, why would it be any different for him?”

As a finale…because every good article needs one, I asked Justin to share some advice to those who are on similar journeys:  He stated   “you have to want it, to work for it [and to] know what you want for your future to plan properly in the present.”

Congratulations Justin, on working for and achieving with each step, the life you want to live!

– Tami Schaafsma –

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