Small Steps to Big Life Changes
Waiting in line to check-out can be a long and frustrating process. For Jim and Tammy’s son Alex, a 25-year old adult with special needs, waiting in line is a challenge. He experiences anxiety and becomes impatient when he is required to wait. That was four years ago before he came to Lifesteps Armstrong Community OutReach Program (ACOR).
When Alex was only two months old, doctors were unable to determine why he was not reaching developmental milestones. That’s when his parents began their journey to find answers, traveling as far as England for a diagnosis. Finally, at the age of 15, Alex was diagnosed with Gluterical Acidemia Type II, a rare metabolic disorder that prevents his body from breaking down fats and proteins.
The family had a lengthy journey to finally find a diagnosis, but ensuring Alex’s care did not stop there. Following High School, Jim and Tammy wanted to find a place where Alex could socialize and learn skills to live his life to the fullest.
“I can’t begin to tell you how important it is to have a facility that we are comfortable with letting our child go,” shared Tammy.
According to Eileen Tuck, Senior Supervisor at Lifesteps Community OutReach Program, when Alex first began attending Lifesteps, he brought many challenging behaviors with him.
The team at Lifesteps worked daily to improve his quality of life. “Alex struggled with delayed gratification. When Alex wanted something, he wanted it at that moment,” said Eileen.
It was difficult for Alex to travel in a vehicle for long distances. Staff prepared him for daily travel by showing pictures of bridges, traffic lights, and more to increase his comfort level during travel. Through those efforts, Alex is now able to travel with ease.
With each challenging behavior, Alex’s team at Lifesteps took small steps to prepare and practice for real-life situations. These steps have made a big difference
in the quality of life for Alex and his family. Today, Alex is able to share his wants and needs appropriately and has developed more meaningful relationships with others.
Tammy shared that “The biggest thing for us is that Alex may be an adult, but he’s developmentally a child. So, think of yourself sending a three year old off in a van with complete strangers, 30 minutes away and having them there for six hours a day…Lifesteps staff are trustworthy and caring.” For Jim and Tammy finding a place that Alex can call “home” when he is not with his parents has made an impact on Alex’s life and their own.
You Can Make a Difference To...
…Grace, a 3-year old with special needs, preparing for Kindergarten
…Tommy, a young adult with Autism, looking for the next step to help him learn skills for a job.
…Amanda, a young women with intellectual and developmental disabilities hoping to live her life to the fullest and be a part of the community.
…Bill, a son, looking for a safe and caring place for his father with Alzheimer’s to attend while he is at work during the day.
Join Lifesteps as we work to make a difference in the lives of those in need across Western PA. With your support we can continue to reach thousands of individuals and families each year. Donate today through the newsletter or visit www.lifesteps.net to support the Lifesteps Family Caring Fund and help make a difference.
A Celebration to Create Bright Futures
Karen Sue Owens, Lifesteps President and CEO, congratulates John Stilley, President and owner of Amerikohl Mining, Inc. Amerikol was honored as the 2015 Star Award recipient for their many years in support of Lifesteps and other community nonprofits.
The company has grown from a small coal mine in 1978 to one of the largest surface mining companies in the Commonwealth. With a hard-working workforce of approximately 120, the company is commited to America’s energy independence and protecting our environment. Amerikohl maintains a philosophy that “working hard provides the opportunty to help those less fortunate.”
Lifesteps 9th Annual Star Gala held in November, was celebrated by over 200 guests and raised over $50,000 net for those in need.
Letter from Karen Sue Owens, Lifesteps President and CEO
With the joys of the holiday season approaching, I wanted to share with you some of Lifesteps most recent joys and blessings. We are honored to serve children, adults, and their families in our local communities. It is a blessing to see them progress, grow, and live their life to the fullest. We are blessed to have the opportunity to see success every day.
We are proud to serve and grateful to those who have chosen us to care for their loved ones.
* 99% of families responding to our program surveys rated Lifesteps Quality of Service as Excellent-Good and 97% of our families rated Lifesteps Safe and Nurturing Environment as Excellent-Good.
So many good things have happened this past year that we don’t have space to share them all; however, we do know that we are extremely blessed and grateful for our staff, volunteers, funders and friends who help make joys and blessings possible for Lifesteps and the over 7,000 people we served.
On behalf of everyone at Lifesteps, please accept our thanks and fondest wishes for many joys and blessings in your life today and in the coming New Year.
Download the latest copy of Lifesteps Newsletter!