Patricia: Birmingham’s Most Fascinating Woman

Everyone needs a friend like Patricia in their life. Her smile lights up a room. What sets Patricia apart is her diverse interests. She’s a historian, graduated from UAB with a degree in History, and an avid bird watcher…and pet owner. She’s the proud “bird mom” to Aronia and Persephone. Patricia is also a published author and artist.

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Patricia has always been a creative person. Along with a lifelong love of art, Patricia is the author of several books. Her most recent work is about her life as a young woman growing up with Aspergers, titled “Chronicles of an Aspie”.

No topic is taboo with Patricia. If you get the chance to hang out with her, she’ll definitely tell you the origin of your name and then invite you to join her in a deep discussion of politics or religion. Make sure to ask Patricia about her travels. Do you now anyone who has stayed in a hostel? You do now. She has traveled across the globe and will dazzle you with her knowledge about different cultures…..actually, you’ll be dazzled after any time with Patricia. She’s fascinating.
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Celebrating Patrick and Casey

mccartys-20th-anniversaryA few weeks ago, Patrick had an idea.

A big anniversary is coming up for him and his wife, Casey and Patrick wanted to do something special. He decided their wedding bands needed an upgrade. Casey wholeheartedly agreed! This week they went to pick out rings for their 20th anniversary this spring.

Patrick and Casey met and became friends while they were attending school in Cape Cod. They met again here in Birmingham through the Horizons School and Triumph. The rest is history. Together they love watching movies and traveling.

Happy, happy early anniversary to Patrick and Casey!

A Q & A with Triumph’s Montgomery Team

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We already know how awesome Triumph’s team in Montgomery is. Now it’s your turn to meet Lorraine, Rebecca, and Mary Kathryn. They recently sat down with Triumph’s Marketing Assistant for a Q & A session.

Meet Lorraine, Montgomery’s Employment Specialist.

Lauren: Describe yourself in five words.

Lorraine: Caring, respectful, thorough, conscientious, deep thinker.

Lauren: Who inspires you?

Lorraine: My father and my two daughters.

Lauren: When faced with a tough issue, how do you work through it?

Lorraine: I always pray for guidance; brainstorm the issue carefully or talk it over with someone that I trust or who could give me wise counsel.


Meet Rebecca, Montgomery’s Services Coordinator.

Lauren: What’s your go-to quote?

Rebecca: “A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the nest one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.” B.F. Skinner

Lauren: Describe yourself in five words.

Rebecca: Progressive pinko internationalist, citizen of earth.

Lauren: What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Rebecca: I love helping make our city better and the people who live here feel more connected. #myMGM

Lauren: When faced with a tough issue, how do you work through it?

Rebecca: I reach out to my friend and family support networks.


Meet Mary Kathryn, Montgomery’s Life Coach.

Lauren: Why work for a nonprofit?

Mary Kathryn: To help better someone else’s life so they can achieve their maximum potential.

Lauren: Describe yourself in five words.

Mary Kathryn: Warm, funny, caring, trustworthy, friendly.

Lauren: What’s the one thing you want readers to take away from this post?

Mary Kathryn: To always try and be the best version of themselves that they can be.

*Readers: We want to hear from you! What would you like to read about next on Triumph’s blog? Leave a comment on Triumph’s Facebook post or email to lquinn@triumphservices.org*

Guest Post: Katherine Barr, Advisory Council

katherine barr blogCoaches Can Help Job-Seekers with Disabilities

By Katherine N. Barr, Esq.

Only 17.8 percent of U.S. working age individuals with disabilities have jobs. For adults who have autism, a developmental disability that has skyrocketed in prevalence, the unemployment rate is 80% (The Economist, April 2016). On average, those with jobs only worked part-time and faced large pay gaps compared to the rest of the population. Careers are a gateway to independence for people with special needs and, clearly, more needs to be done to ensure that they have equal opportunities to participate in the workplace. In addition, 87 percent of customers prefer businesses who employ a diverse workforce.

Career services that support job seekers with disabilities are fragmented and differ significantly by location. All states, though, have a Vocational Rehabilitation Agency that provides counseling and other career assistance to individuals with special needs. They usually partner with local nonprofits to deliver programs, free of charge, to both high school students and adults. In some cases, though, they work with managed care organizations that charge a fee. Their services may also be paid for through a state’s Medicaid waiver program.

It’s best to start focusing on career issues as early as possible. Many parents do not understand that employment services through Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies are based on eligibility, as opposed to education services, which are based on entitlement. This shift in service provision can lead to a gap in services for students exiting high school. Vocational assessment and preparation should be part of each child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), and parents should insist that schools coordinate their efforts with local job training agencies. Such services are staffed by job coaches or employment specialists, who provide individual counseling that ranges from short-term to many months.

While specifics vary, typical services include:

  • evaluation of interests, capabilities and needed supports;
  • career counseling to identify employment opportunities;
  • instruction in specific skills, communications and workplace behavior;
  • assistance with resumes, applications, interview techniques and other job-seeking skills;
  • job placement;
  • on-the-job coaching; and
  • long-term support for the life of the job.

Some agencies actively work with potential employers to identify tasks that could be combined to create a position suitable for a specific applicant–a process referred to as job carving. Once an individual has been hired, a job coach may provide onsite training and support and to act as liaison with the employer until the individual has successfully adjusted. During this time, the job coach may provide assistance with skill acquisition, problem-solving, time management, co-worker and supervisor relations, and conflict resolution. For some individuals, this supported employment may be permanent.

Such services are in high demand and, given government budget constraints, there are often long waiting lists. In some states, priority is given to those with the most significant disabilities.

Triumph Services in Birmingham, Alabama, is a great example of effective job coaching at work. Over 80 percent of the individuals with developmental disabilities who pass through Triumph’s program get jobs! Funded by Alabama’s Department of Rehabilitation Services, Triumph provides skills assessments, job development and coaching, and long-term support.

After identifying potential employers, Triumph’s employment specialists role play with applicants, then accompany them to interviews to assist them in asking and responding to questions. Once the individual has landed a job, coaches provide one-to-one support, including help developing work relationships and natural supports in the work environment, handling confrontations and solving problems. They also educate employers on how to provide appropriate accommodations.

Once the individual has worked independently for 90 days, Alabama considers them “rehabilitated,” and a small fee–depending upon ability to pay–may be charged for ongoing check-ins by email, phone or in person.

Misconceptions abound concerning the employment of individuals with special needs. Many people fear that exploring career options will disqualify them for needs-based public benefits–such as supplemental Security Income and Medicaid–on which they depend. In reality, there are numerous programs designed to protect their eligibility while they explore the job market. Social Security’s Ticket to Work is an example. When afforded the opportunity, employees with disabilities have proven time and again that they possess the talent and commitment to make a real difference in the workplace. Everyone benefits when they get that chance.

Original Publication: http://www.specialneedsalliance.org/coaches-can-help-job-seekers-with-disabilities/

Nine Lessons in Nine Years.

Happy birthday, Triumph. Triumph Services turned nine on Monday, August 1. Allow me to share nine lessons I’ve learned during the past nine years.

  1. I love what I do.
  2. Perfection is no fun.
  3. Baby steps…baby steps…baby steps.
  4. Success motivates.
  5. Failure paralyzes.
  6. Always give the benefit of the doubt.
  7. Empowering works.
  8. Enabling doesn’t.
  9. I have a lot more to learn.

-Brooke Bowles, Executive Director

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Meet Mychal: Advocate, Artist, and Your Right-Hand Man

mychal 3Advocate: My name is Mychal and I am a self-advocate for Triumph Services. How am I a self advocate? I am a member of Triumph’s advocacy group called TAG. I started with Triumph in 2011 back when I was still in high school. Throughout the years I have become more and more independent. My mission is to teach people about what autism really is. In March 2016 I went to Montgomery with Triumph and advocated for Autism Legislative Day. My goal in Montgomery was to represent autism in every way possible. senator coleman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist: My talent is art. I love to paint. I was in Triumph’s Art Show in May and I was the featured artist in Studio by the Track’s big event, Art from the Heart. Being a featured artist meant that my work was in the live auction. That was a historic moment for me.

mychal blog 2My featured piece was called, “Ashelyn”. It was based on one of my friends. I invited Ashelyn to the event with me.  mychal blog 1

 

 

 

 

 

When I get ready to create, I take my camera and take photos of buildings, abstracts in the world, and people. My friends make the best models. I think my art is improving with each year.

Your Right-Hand Man: Many of my friends work at the same restaurant in my neighborhood. You might not know that I help my friends get to work. Call me an “Uber Drive for my Friends”. When me and my friends get together, it is like family. Speaking of family, I drive to Fairfield each week to help my grandma go to the store. On Saturday’s I do maintenance work at my grandad’s church.

Last Thoughts: I believe in myself. I know that I can do what is thought to be impossible for someone like me. Like being a featured artist, advocating for legislation, and aiding my friends and family. It is all about putting my best foot forward and being a genuine, kind person. Believe in yourself and go for it.

-Mychal, Triumph Participant

Meet Chad, Triumph’s Summer Program Coordinator

for blogEach morning, before my summer-program students arrive, I’m on autopilot as I clip worksheets into binders and review the day’s schedule – one more time. But in the back of my mind, I try to think about what exactly we’re doing here. What is it that makes this program so successful? Is it my innovative curriculum? Could it be my shiny presentation software? Maybe it’s my hard-earned experience as a teacher, both domestically and abroad. Although I’d like to attribute our success to these things I’ve worked so hard on, I know that the real reason is oddly simplistic.

With only hours before our July session is set to begin, I think I am finally on to something. The explanation is broad and sometimes vague. But it needs to be that way. The spirit of our program flourishes when it’s allowed to grow and change with each student’s contribution. Likewise, it suffers when I attempt to quantify its parts and procedures. In other words, the summer program’s success is built upon the belief that people are more important than curriculum; that the most important learning style is simply doing; and the realization that every class will be – must be – different from the last.

My greatest assets are not pedagogical theories or technology – although they are useful tools. Rather, the people I work with and the support they provide are my most highly-prized resources. Without their expertise and experience, the summer program would be one more mediocre attempt to reach a stranded population – one that deserves an opportunity to access its potential. This highly-diverse, extremely-talented staff gives me the courage to become strategically vulnerable to the needs of my students. In short, they allow me to focus on the most important classroom element – trust.

With these riches, I am able to cultivate a program that bridges the gap between supportive high-school environments and that moment when a student achieves enough independence to become a recognized member of their neighborhood. Whether we’re learning how to prepare for a job interview, or how to ride the bus, our mission is to fully integrate our participants with their community. This includes hands-on training and experience that emphasize employment, social immersion, and independence-building activities.

The magic that makes our program truly remarkable is an insistence on character development. Everything we do centers around compassion for our teammates, our group as a whole, and the people we encounter each day. In a world that is trending toward selfishness, we strive to articulate the importance of teamwork and self-fulfillment through helping others.

These aspects – working, living, playing – are not innovative. On the contrary, they are simply elements of the human spirit that must be developed and maintained. Triumph’s Summer Program is a balanced curricula that seeks to nurture each of these parts in an effort to employ a population whose talents and desires are far too valuable to ignore.

-Chad Nichols, Summer Program Coordinator

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Achieved Independence.

On Monday our country celebrated its 240th anniversary of independence. Meet RuthE. She celebrates her independence every day.

ruthe independence blog“To me, independence means having the freedom to do what I want. I am living my life the way I want to live it.”

RuthE lives her independence through art, travel, and exploring Birmingham.

You can find RuthE painting at Studio by the Tracks. Her subjects? The Millennium Falcon, landscapes from her travels, and cars. You might have seen her art that featured in Studio by the Track’s silent auction and event, Art from the Heart.

RuthE Stanley Hotel

RuthE  loves to travel and has been everywhere. Yep, you read that right. She lived in Germany for several years when her father was in the military and she traveled all over Europe. Back in the U.S., RuthE has visited 44 out of 50 states. That number will soon change when she travels to Alaska this fall. “Sometimes before a trip, I’ll look up the best places to eat or what sites to see. But my favorite trips have been when I don’t plan and just go do.”

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When not at work, you’ll find RuthE hanging in Five Points with friends. She enjoys the walkability and the energy Five Points emits. After you spend time with RuthE,  it’s easy to see why people are drawn to her. She is a devoted friend and passionate individual.

What’s RuthE’s life mantra? “Don’t let anything stop you from what you want to do. If you want it, go for it.”

Wise words, RuthE!

Meet Mary Rhea, Life Coach at Triumph

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A Whole New World

If you are around me enough you quickly learn that I like to laugh, have a song for everything, and love Disney. As I reflect back on my month and a half of being a part of Triumph as a life coach I just keep singing “A Whole New World’ from Aladdin in my head. I know it sounds silly, but that is truly how I feel about Triumph. Triumph has taught me so much in just 45 days, all encompassed by me learning a whole new language, being immersed in a whole new atmosphere, and developing a whole new mindset.

A Whole New Language:

During my first few days at Triumph I quickly came to realize that everyone uses a different terminology. Everyone’s language here is positive and uplifting. The terms that Triumph staff uses, especially when referring to anyone a part of Triumph, comes from their love and respect for each participant. This was entirely new for me in the work place, but as I continue to be around it, it is making such a difference in how I work and how I talk.

A Whole New Atmosphere:

Something else I quickly learned in my first month is that the Triumph staff truly is a family. I have never experienced a closer knit loving group of co-workers before working here. There is such a rich level of respect and genuinely. During my other jobs I was often on my own and had no support. Here there is so much support and everyone wants to help each other out, no matter if it’s their field or not. The communication between everyone here honestly blew me away. I am an over communicator, thanks mom, and had constantly been discouraged by it. Here at Triumph they encourage it, and everyone’s doors are always open for any reason. The open atmosphere is something I have some to love and truly cherish here.

A Whole New Mindset

Finally, and what I believe to be the biggest lesson Triumph has taught me so far is how you think about this population of adults with developmental disabilities. This population does not have disabilities, but rather different abilities that Triumph helps grow and develop. There are so many success stories of participants who live independently and who have community. Here at Triumph it is wonderful to see everyone celebrate when a participant gets a job, or when it’s someone’s birthday and we all sing and pull out the clapper. The participants and staff have true relationships, and Triumph genuinely wants all the participants to achieve independence because they care.

This “Whole New World” that I am graciously a part of is something spectacular and I am looking forward to continuing to learn all it has to teach me!

-Mary Rhea, Life Coach at Triumph Services

Three for Three!

 

Daniel Strong

3 facts about Daniel:

  1. Strong Man. That’s my nickname around Triumph. You might not know that I have Prader Willi syndrome. It’s a very rare disorder but I don’t let that define me. I participated in a study for people with Prader Willi. I know my participation in that study helped further research for Prader Willi.
  2. Patient. I trained my dog, Rex Abraham Junior Strong. He’s a German Shepard. It takes a lot of patience to train a puppy.
  3. Super Fan. Not surprisingly, I am a huge Auburn fan. My family has been going to games together for years!

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3 facts about Raven:

  1. Music. Ashanti is my favorite favorite artist. I could listen to her all day.
  2. Dance. Dance. Dance. I love to dance. Doesn’t matter what type of music-I’ll be dancing to it.
  3. Fun. I enjoy riding on my scooter and love sewing. This picture is me sewing at Bib & Tucker Sew-Op. 

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3 facts about Ellen:

  1. Piano Player. I have been playing the piano for four years. I work closely with my music coach and I perform at a recital every quarter.
  2. Avid Reader. I love spending my summer at the library. I am doing a summer reading challenge right now where I read three books each week. I love it!
  3. Dedicated Employee. I work at Tre Luna Catering and I wear many hats. I help out with deliveries, customer service, and party planning prep.

 

Meet Bryan: Barons’ Newest Employee

bryan baronsI stepped out on a pretty big limb last week to see if I could land my dream job. I took a risk and stepped out of my comfort zone. And guess what? I am the Birmingham Barons’ newest employee.

Working with the Barons is the right fit for me because I love sports, the team is family oriented, and they treat me just like anyone else. I am so happy and overwhelmed at the same time.

Life presents opportunities in many different ways and I chose to take this opportunity head on. I chose to take this risk and I am now reaping the rewards. And I wouldn’t be here without my job coach, Alicia, and Triumph. They have my back and made this possible. I am living my dream!

-Bryan, Triumph Participant and newest member of the Birmingham Barons

Meet Lauren

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Meet Lauren. There are dozens of words that describe Lauren. We chose five: social, dedicated, active, kind, and awesome.

Social. Lauren enjoys hanging out with friends, family, and planning parties. Her most recent event was a jam-packed Easter shindig filled with appetizers and dancing.lauren k 1

Dedicated. Lauren is a self advocate for adults with developmental disabilities. Lauren is heavily involved in People First of Alabama. Her dream is for everyone with a developmental disability to have a job. As an eleven year employee at the Marriott, Lauren says having a job has changed her life.

Active. Her involvement with Triumph, People First, friends, and family keep her busy. And she prefers it that way.

Kind. She always lights up a room and always takes the time to ask about your how your day is going.

Awesome. We’re big fans 🙂

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What is Autism? Part Two. By Mitchell

mitchell for blog

Hi everybody. I know it’s been a while, but College kinda intervened. Anyway, here is my next blog post. When we last left off, I was busy back in  my hometown, in an apartment. And, well..

Absolutely nothing happened for six months! No, seriously. It’s kinda embarrassing, actually. See, I went to all that trouble to get my freedom, and now that I was in Mobile…the same thing came up. I couldn’t actually FIND a job. Now, however, I was able to more comfortably look.

See, there’s a little thing they can’t teach you in college, or at least didn’t teach me back at Mercer. They teach you a lot of knowledge, they teach you self respect, they teach you how to be a mature adult…they even teach the work ethic you’ll need when you get IN the job. But, they don’t actually have a course on how to handle going from ‘job search’ to a ‘job’. This isn’t just a matter of ‘sending in resumes’. Which, is the only advice you get. This is a matter of finding a job in the career you want, with an opening. It did not help that, well…I didn’t know WHERE to look. I was just told “Get a job” with no real direction. Most of the areas I was directed to, were by someone who hasn’t had to job-search in decades. My requests for help, were, sadly, ignored.

Thing is? I didn’t mind nearly as much as I used to. I had a safe place, to be where I wanted, and I had an allowance. So, I felt like, even if I couldn’t make progress, I could at least be comfortable. I…actually got one job offer. From Wal-Mart, actually. They said no.

Yeah. Not exactly fun. Anyway, it went on like that for a good six months. Eventually, however, I discovered something. Triumph services. My mom, who, no matter how much I complain, really cares about me, showed me.

Triumph…it was what I needed. Horizon as well. Both of them…they’re INCREDIBLE for Autistic people. Horizon is a bit more…extensive, but if you need a bit more help learning how to budget, and live on your own…Horizon is IT. It’s pretty much an assisted living/tutoring center, which is GREAT for some people.

As for me, I’d already been to college, so what I needed, was a leg up. Just someone to be there when I fall, make sure I’m not messing up, help me have faith in myself, and help teach me what I didn’t know.

George, and Triumph, did that EASY. I mean, perfectly. I had to move to Birmingham, and be alone…but I had someoen to CARE for me. So I didn’t feel alone. George came every week, and I always had him to talk to.

And, thanks to Triumph, I was able to get a job!  I was able to live on my own, and I was able to get a job. I had my own money, I had my own place to live, and I was adult-ing. All I had to do, was work on prospering, and advancing.

And, well…I’ll explain more about how to Adult next time. See you guys soon!

Cheers to Triumph

Triumph….where everybody knows your name.…and they’re always glad you came.

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“I like coming to Triumph’s socials because I make new friends. I made a friend named Jeray. He’s a cool guy”

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“It’s because I get to make new friends and talk to them about the movie I’m creating”

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“Going out to eat and playing games with my friends”

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“Meeting new people”

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“I like coming here because of her. (points to Andrea) She’s my friend and she’s awesome”

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Triumph….Where everybody knows your name….and they’re always glad you came.

Meet Allie

Meet Allie..the Artist, the Musician, the Friend.FullSizeRender-4 copy

Allie brings so much creativity and passion to everything she does. When she is not painting, singing, or spending time with friends, Allie enjoys cooking. Her favorite recipe so far? Chicken Alfredo with broccoli and fresh tomatoes.

But her creative endeavors are only part of the picture of Allie. She is also a committed employee at our local plant nursery, Leaf ‘n Petal.

Allie enjoys the creative opportunities at Triumph, as well as her large group of friends she has met through Triumph’s social events.

Last, but certainly not least, Allie has a terrific sense of humor. When asked to describe her Triumph Life Coach, Allie says Chantel is “fanta-bulous.

We think Allie is pretty fanta-bulous too!

When Passions Meet Employment

recordsJoey came to Triumph in 2015 knowing exactly what he wanted to gain- an internship in the music industry. As a music major at Jacksonville State University nearing graduation, Joey wanted to gain experience through an internship to make himself marketable in the music world upon graduation. Joey is as funny as he is smart and is a joy to be around. Joey plays three instruments and very passionate about his love for music. I knew immediately that whoever added Joey as part of their team would be beyond lucky to have such an asset.

Joey soon landed his internship at Seasick Records where you can find him organizing records and assisting in all daily tasks and he could not have found a better fit!

-Stephanie Betsch

Preparedness Makes Perfect

mock 1Don’t you wish you could have had real interview practice?

mock 5Triumph’s Employment Team should be renamed to Triumph’s PREPAREDNESS Team.

The employment team at Triumph set up practice interviews this past Monday. Triumph staff and Triumph Junior Board members posed as future employers. Attendees had the opportunity to get real feedback on their interview and how they could improve for a real interview.

Don’t you wish you could ask your employer how your first interview was? Well, maybe not.. Some will remember that first meeting being a bundle of nerves…some might remember that first meeting being a blur.
With Triumph’s mock interviews, preparedness, readiness, and confidence are established and lead to home runs in real life interviews.
Shout-out to Triumph’s Employment Team for setting the groundwork for future great interviews!

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Art, Works.

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January marked the end of Triumph’s Creative Workshops debut.

This opportunity for creativity encourages growth in

friendships, trust, and the opportunity to “just be yourself”.

What did we see by the end of January?

Friends have grown closer.

Mindfulness and relaxation have taken center stage.

Trust has grown among
members of the sessions.

Beautiful art has been created.

Interested in a Workshop? Visit our website and check out the February Sessions! 
www.triumphservices.org

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What is Autism? by Mitchell

mitchellHello, my name is Charles Mitchell Lord, and this is my blog post. I am honored that Triumph Services gave me this opportunity. While I do so, however, it makes me wonder what to discuss. Now, my first idea is to give a bit of an intro post, explain who I am, explain what I plan to do, and all.

But that’s no fun. We’ll save that for Post #2. Instead, I want to get right into the thick of things. Namely…what does someone who’s Autistic, think Autism is. Well, first off…it’s a mental disorder. Now, calling it a ‘disorder’ might not seem very PC…but, let’s be clear. Autism means part of my brain, quite frankly, doesn’t work. Now, it comes with advantages…but there are disadvantages as well. And, compared to baseline…I don’t ‘do’ things people take for granted. So, disorder is best. Plus, any OTHER word to be used…well, it would be awkward.

Autism means, I have certain elements of my personality that fit a ‘mold’. Not all people with Autism have all those elements, but they all have at least some of them. In my case, it’s an inability to read social cues, an incredible focus on certain topics, a focus on ‘rules’ above all else and a few other, more minor, things.

However, that’s just a dictionary meaning. What’s it LIKE. Well, it’s been portrayed in the media, most famously by Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. But, well…he’s not the best portrayal. Quite frankly? He’s a jerk. And, most autistic people aren’t jerks. And, WHY he’s a jerk, is simple. The people who write him have no idea what an autistic person is actually LIKE. Now, there are other examples from media, but they’re more niche. My favorite, personally, is Abed from Community. But even he is an exageration.

There’s got to be someone who, if he doesn’t get things right, gets the THEME right. Someone who just instantly gives you a perfect mental image. Someone famous. Someone everyone knows. Someone who can…

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THAT IS WHAT AUTISM IS LIKE! Mork from Ork, thank you very much. NANU NANU!

Someone who’s autistic, is kind, caring, friendly, funny, and happy-go-lucky. On their home planet. But now that they’re on Earth…they’re confused. Things don’t go the way they should. So, they’re unable to cope. They have all these behaviors they know, and none of them seem to match up. They’re square pegs, stuck in a round hole.

That’s what it’s like being Autistic. It’s like being on, not just a foreign country, but a foreign PLANET, with nobody else who QUITE understands you. But, as long as someone with autism never loses their inner spark, and has someone who treats them kindly, and gives them a chance? They’ll turn out to be someone you’d love to hang out with, and a loyal, true friend.

Well, usually. Every planet has a couple of jerks. (That’s why they sent Mork to us!).

Dedicated to Robin Williams: He’s up there making God laugh.

-Mitchell Lord,

Triumph Participant

Meet AJ

IMG_3967One quick flash of his smile and you’ll catch yourself smiling too. Meet AJ.

AJ has never met a stranger. AJ came to Triumph in November with one goal in mind. He had to find a paying job in order to graduate from high school. Lydia, one of Triumph’s Employment Specialists, jumped on board and began searching for the perfect fit for AJ.

Lydia describes AJ as quick-witted and kind and was confident they would find the right job match.

After a job-try at the Levite Jewish Community Center, AJ turned to Lydia and said, “I know this is my job!”

… and he was right.

The LJCC hired AJ and he began working as a greeter in the main lobby. What better place to show off an amazing smile, a quick wit, and a kind personality? Congratulations to AJ and congratulations to the LJCC  on their awesome new employee.

How One Person Changed My Outlook On Life

lydia for blogAs we round out the first week of 2016, I can’t help but look back on my 6 months since starting at Triumph. Wow, what a journey it has been. As an Employment Specialist, I have gotten to experience some incredible moments, to say the least. Some stand at the forefront of my mind, when reflecting on 2015.

One story in particular is with a young man I’m working with named Juan. As we were walking to his interview at UAB (he rocked it and they offered him the position on the spot), he stopped to tell me what a fantastic day it was and how blessed he felt for three simple reasons: he had just gotten new glasses that day and was now able to see clearly, his gratitude at being offered his first interview, and the fact that his birthday was that upcoming weekend. His outlook on life made me stop in my tracks. How often we get so caught up in the day to day stressors that we forget to take a minute to appreciate the little things.

I will always be thankful to Juan for helping me put things into perspective. Of course, as they say, “Nothing good comes easy” many of these success stories are not without struggles along the way. This year I’ve learned not only patience but also how to pick yourself up and keep moving forward. As I look back on these last 6 months, I can’t help but be hopeful for what 2016 has up its sleeve. This year I’m looking forward to coming along for the ride with the participants we serve at Triumph!

-Lydia Maloy

Her Journey Has Just Begun

mariah for constant contactDear Friends of Triumph,

I graduated from high school in May. I have never had a job. I currently live with my parents and my two-year old daughter, Niya. I first started working with a job coach at Triumph. My job coach, Alicia, helped me prepare me for interviews and with applications. She kept telling me, “Don’t get discouraged. Keep your head up.” Before I knew it, I landed my first job. Alicia had confidence in me and gave me the tools to apply my skills to the right job. I am now a hostess at a new restaurant in Birmingham called Hickory Tavern. I love the fast-paced environment and love meeting every customer that walks through the door.

Now that I have a job, I want to live in my own apartment. I want to have space for my daughter to run around and have a space we can call our own. With help from my life coach, Christina, I am in the process of filling out paperwork for an apartment. I hope to move in by the New Year. The apartment I really want even provides childcare.

I have to thank my support team at Triumph for my newfound independence. Please support Triumph because they have given me peace of mind. I know that Niya and I will be able to live on our own and I will be able to provide for her.

Thank you for supporting Triumph. There are other individuals like me that can benefit from the services they provide. I know in the future, Triumph will be there to help me with my next step, going to college and becoming a Medical Assistant.

Mariah Butts,

Participant, Triumph Services

Spark Joy…Bark Joy

Meet Missy.  Missy is….IMG_2422 Triumph’s unofficial mascot…everyone’s best friend…the most popular Triumph “staff” member. You get the message. Missy is invaluable to Triumph.

What does Missy do at Triumph? She accompanies Pam, one of Triumph’s therapists, during sessions. Missy provides comfort and support. She is an Emotional Support Dog. And she does it all in style…she has an outfit for every occasion.

IMG_1533Triumph staff agrees that although Missy is at Triumph mainly to provide support to participants, she also brings joy to every staff member and visitor that walks through the door. Missy might just be Triumph’s MVP….but don’t let her know that. She thinks she runs the place.

The Force is Strong with David

David Social Media (1)Chances are if you’ve come to a Triumph social event, you have met David. Or rather, he has met you. When David is at a social event, he introduces himself to anyone he doesn’t know. He likes to be ‘in the know’. And I don’t blame him! How many times have you been at a party or gathering and you contemplated taking the plunge and start mingling? For David, its second nature.

I wanted readers to meet David because he is not only one-of-a-kind, but also because today is the day the new Star Wars movie has been released. David is a HUGE Star Wars fan.

Star Wars is the ultimate story according to David. He enjoys the classic good versus evil and he is particularly fond of light saber duals. Especially in Star Wars 3, Revenge of the Sith, where Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi have an epic dual. David adds,  “No story is complete without heroes and villains.”

When I asked David for one more thing that he wanted readers to take away from this post, he said,  “My love for animals. Especially water animals like sea lions.” David knows all the facts and trivia about most animals and says he would love to work at a zoo or an aquarium one day. May the force be with you, David!

I Think This is the Beginning of a Beautiful Partnership

Roz for BlogIt was a quiet afternoon in 2007 when a young woman walked into my school and introduced herself as Brooke from Triumph Services. She spoke passionately about the mission of this young organization and the need for adults with developmental disabilities to live independently. She had a young woman in mind who would be an asset to the school and deserving of a chance to prove herself. The resume was complete and quite attractive. Brooke explained how the organization supported participants and the employers. As an educator, the process was quite compelling. I wholeheartedly agreed to an interview and the young lady was hired. I am pleased the partnership between Triumph and Creative Montessori School is ongoing.

I retired in 2014 and after a short hiatus discovered I was not ready for the rocking chair. I looked around for a place where I could feel productive and perhaps in some small way make a difference. After researching jobs, I was pleasantly surprised to discover there was an office position open at Triumph Services. I sent a tentative e-mail and received a positive response. Shortly, I joined the staff at Triumph. This new chapter in my life is everything I could have hoped for. The staff are passionate; the participants deserving; and the mission has not changed. I am proud to say that the partnership that began in 2007 continues today.

Roz Butts, “The Roz”