In May of 2014, Richard and Diane were given the most unexpected news from their son, Andrew’s case manager.

Andrew, with multiple diagnoses on the autism spectrum, had been selected by the state of Missouri to receive funding for full time residential care. Their case manager looked at them shocked and surprised: “I can’t believe this – this just doesn’t happen”.

Long before receiving this amazing news, Andrew, Diane and Richard had looked around the St. Louis area for a potential residence for Andrew, who often exhibited challenging, aggressive behaviors. Without doing a lot of research, their initial thought was that an organization with a campus setting would be a good fit.

Quite simply, they couldn’t have been more wrong. They met with numerous agencies, specializing in the care of people with developmental disabilities. It was during this process when they realized that the best outcome for Andrew would be in a home with a few other clients.

A home in a typical neighborhood would allow for personalized one-on-one care that would foster Andrew’s continued development and promote an active and productive lifestyle.

It had to be an extraordinary organization because Andrew’s future was at stake. They found that Emmaus had the most to offer Andrew. This included a knowledgeable transition team and well-trained staff who were willing to learn sign language in order to communicate.

Most importantly, by living in a regular house in St. Charles County, Andrew would enjoy the same “normal” lifestyle that he had grown up with – he would be living in a suburban neighborhood with the opportunity to wave to neighbors and be conveniently located close to shops, restaurants and other urban amenities. But there would be one significant difference – one that Andrew’s parents had only dreamed about – a newfound sense of independence.

Andrew loves going to McDonald’s and his Direct Support Professionals love taking him. Instead of placing an order and paying for him, Andrew is able to use a self-service station with an interactive display. This technology allows Andrew, who communicates with sign language, to select the food that he wants and pay on his own. Andrew loves the food, but he always is filled with joy at completing this act independently.

After Andrew moved out of his family home, Diane and Richard were astonished to experience his newly discovered independence during their very first visit to with him. In just a few short weeks, at age 22, Andrew had grown up. When they returned from taking him to dinner, he was so proud to open the front door of his new home and invite them in. And later, when it was time for his parents to leave, they wondered if there would be tears, but there were none.

While Andrew did not shed any tears after that first visit, there were many tears shed by his mom, dad and sister during that drive home. Not tears of sorrow – but rather of tears of joy – because Andrew was home.

This is what Emmaus does! Along with providing above-and-beyond care every day, Emmaus Direct Support Professionals discern and invent new ways to assist and improve client’s lives. This is why we and so many other parents and families entrust the lives of our loved ones with Emmaus.

Written by Diane Alt (Andrew’s Mother)

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