Contributed by Becky Roth, DSW, ABS, MPED, BCBA, Clinical Supervisor
This story was originally published in the April issue of the Laurel Okanagan Imagine Newsletter. Johnathan is pursuing a fearless and fulfilled life, with Autism being one of his diagnoses.
Having Fun and Being Fearless
From a young age, Johnathan Higgins has been known to embrace opportunities for adventure and adrenaline. You can always count on him to be up for another round on a daring amusement ride at the fair. Perhaps he has realized that trying and learning new things brings a certain zest into his life, or maybe he simply embraces a “live life on the edge” motto. Whatever it is, Johnathan is up for the experience! This pure joy and passion for life has carried him through his teenage, and now, adult years. Johnathan and those who have supported him throughout the years, would tell you that pursuing a fearless and fulfilled life takes a lot of effort, courage, belief, and enthusiasm to learn. It wasn’t always easy. Johnathan and his team have gone through many trials and tribulations that tested their willingness to move forward. However, his team is committed to creating consistency and predictability, and gaining a better understanding of his verbal and non-verbal communication. As a result, incredible milestones and accomplishments have been achieved through this strong support system paired with the resilience that Johnathan continues to seek and develop.
Johnathan and Amy, a support staff at PDSCL
Giving Gifts and Forging Friendships
For example, Johnathan has always been very passionate about birthday parties (who can blame him –it’s a place where friends, gifts, and cake all gather in the same room!). Up until recently, Johnathan was always most excited about his birthday, but over the last year or so, he has come to realize that the true gift is found in giving, not receiving. He has found new excitement and joy in finding the perfect gift for his friend or offering a joyful hug and “happy birthday” to his family member. Beyond celebrations, Johnathan has also come to learn that a fulfilled life involves meaningful relationships with friends and family.
He has learned important characteristics of being a good friend, such as accepting and embracing people for who they are, and being patient and understanding when someone is having a tough moment. He uses these social skills in the various friendships he has developed and strengthened with his peers at Penticton District Society for Community Living (PDSCL), and throughout the community of Penticton.
Leaping Forward for Life
You may be wondering what Johnathan’s “Leap Forward Moment” is. Well, the beauty in Johnathan’s achievements is that he continues to demonstrate first hand that if you simply keep pushing forward with the motivation to grow and learn, and surround yourself with a supportive team, your “Leap Forward Moment” never really ends. For Johnathan, this is only just the beginning. With the resilience, determination, and courage that pours out of him, his pursuit of a fearless and fulfilled life is not slowing down any time soon!
The Laurel team offers evidence based and person centered programs and services tailored specifically to the unique needs of the individual. To learn more about Laurel Behaviour Support Services, please visit www.laurelbc.ca.