Creating Opportunities - Geneva client uses Centre’s adult services to support independent lifestyle
With a college diploma, two jobs, a girlfriend and a penchant for Karaoke, Rob Italiano’s life doesn’t sound much different from that of his peers.
But it is.
Having Asperger’s Syndrome presents him with a unique set of challenges, but with a defiant spirit and a network of support, Rob has learned to access programs and create his own opportunities in life. Now what he wants is a place to call his own.
An Adult Setting
When managing the pressures of work and life, it helps to connect with peers in an adult setting, but when Rob comes to the Geneva Centre to meet with friends and talk about their jobs and the latest movies, he’ll often spy children’s toys in the room.
“Physically, we’re adults, and although we sometimes enjoy child-like things, we want to be treated as adults first,” he says, explaining that the toys are a reminder that most autism programs focus on children.
Choices and Self Advocating
But Geneva has a number of adult services. In fact, Rob continues to work with the Choices program, learning to make mature decisions and to self-advocate (he is also a member of the Centre’s advisory committee). He used the program in 2002 to decide to study the developmental service worker program at Centennial College, and has relied upon it to learn to juggle school, work and life.
He used an outside service for employment counseling to find a job with the City of Toronto working in the summer and occasionally throughout the year as an integration facilitator and during the academic year as an after-school facilitator, all the while doing what he does best, working with children who have intellectual disabilities.
A Source of Validation
It’s fulfilling work, says Rob, but he also wants to feel validated when he is accessing support services for himself.
“And validation comes from doing things that are age appropriate,” he says, explaining that creating an adult learning environment that presents itself in that way is best. But it should be done without taking away access to some of the toys and games that many of his peers continue to enjoy.
“It’s about choice. Give us a choice,” he says.