Real Stories by Self-Advocates, Parents, and Beneficiaries
Our mission is to promote, protect, and advocate for the human rights and self-determination of Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We’d love to hear your experience about how The Arc of Texas has supported the I/DD community! We will feature a new story every month, so stay tuned for updates. No one tells better stories than the voices that should be heard!
“The Arc of Texas has helped me advocate for myself and for other people with disabilities. I have testified a lot of times at the Capitol. The Arc of Texas helped me be a representative for Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE). The Arc of Texas taught me about the Consumer Directed Services program and I am now in charge of myself and the people who help me in my daily life.” [Back to the top]
“For people with severe disabilities and their families, living at home and remaining as independent as possible may seem like an uphill battle, in part, because of years-long waiting lists for services. In my case, the need for assistance arose when my wife passed away suddenly. This left me as the only caregiver for my son, who is profoundly autistic. It was then that our local community center (local authority) suggested applying for a Diversion Slot. Working with Conrad’s case manager and others, I prepared an application to place Conrad in a State Supported Living Center (SSLC). This was the last thing I wanted to do, but part of the Diversion Slot process included an application to place him in an SSLC.
Once the application for placement in a SSLC was complete, the local authority met and it was determined that without additional support, Conrad was at risk of imminent placement in a SSLC and that a Diversion Slot would be appropriate. Within 6 weeks, I was notified that Conrad had been awarded the Slot.
Securing the Diversion Slot enabled me to hire the help Conrad needed to stay at home until he finished school. It then helped us find the great group home he moved into after graduation.“ [Back to the top]
“Hi, I’m Jessaca Bond. I’m a self-advocate and I’m very interested in helping others however I can. With the support of The Arc of Texas, I testified in support of the Supported Decision Making Agreement bill, which became law on September 1, 2015. Here I am with Senator Zaffirini, a co-sponsor of the bill.” [Back to the top]
MacKenzie is now out of her transition program. She has successfully completed her goals and now enjoys a fulfilling live by independently calling from local transportation to pick her up from home and take her to an assisted living center where she assists the Activities Director on a weekly basis. She also spends one day peer week in a highly-engaging day program called My Possibilities. We finally started receiving Texas Home Living Benefits so she works with a Life Skills Coach 3-4 days per week to shop, enjoy community based activities and work on independent living skills such as working within a budget and using an iPad for her checking account.
“We had the support of The Arc staff with ARD meetings, goal revisions and ultimately transition planning. Without The Arc of Texas we would not be as far along as we had envisioned for Mackenzie and her life successes she enjoys on a daily basis.” [Back to the top]
Niko & Julie
Budget cuts to personal attendants and lack of sufficient funding for community-based services means that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families are facing uncertainty during the 85th Texas Legislative Session.
Julie and her daughter Niko, who is five years old and has Down symdrome, wanted to help. Julie signed them up for The Arc of Texas’ Rally & Advocacy Day on April 6th, an event designed to spur constituents to join together to advocate for—or against—proposed legislation that will affect Texans with disabilities. During Rally & Advocacy Day, attendees receive specialized training and advice on how to conduct legislative visits as well as support in making visits and talking to legislators at the Capitol.
Julie and Niko may have been nervous at first, but because they received personalized training, they both felt confident and well prepared to make visits to legislators and speak about issues important to them. Julie and Niko participated in meetings with legislative staff of their Texas senator and representative. They told their personal story and discussed the affect legislation will have on their family. Julie says, “the information that The Arc supplied for my meetings with members of [the legislature] was key in keeping my talking points in order while allowing me to underscore the impact of these actions on constituents: I was there to represent not only my family but the more than 2,000 other families from my local Dallas Down Syndrome Guild.”
Inspired by The Arc of Texas’ Rally day and buoyed by her experience advocating before legislators, Julie is now passing along what she’s learned with other families in her community. “It’s a beginning!” says Julie. With renewed hope for Niko’s future, Julie embraces her role as an advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. [Back to the top]
“My name is Tanashia and I was born and raised in Austin. I am an intern at The Arc of Texas and I am also on the Austin Advocates Board. What I love about being an intern at The Arc of Texas is that they are teaching me computer skills so in the future I can get a job working in an office on the computer. One project I really enjoy doing is searching for things to do when they plan to go out of town. I also like the staff here they treat me really well and they are really sweet and helpful. I really enjoy being an intern and helping them out with whatever they need for me to do. Thank you for your donation it helps us make a difference in the lives of people with developmental disabilities.” [Back to the top]