Written by Judi C., an administrative support professional employed by Goldie Floberg since 2008. Judi shared her story in support of Autism Awareness Month. Show your support by donating to our staff’s team fundraiser and sharing our stories.

You can’t do that, you can’t go there, we can’t let you do that. All those negatives that were used, even with the people we serve. Not anymore!

We have changed our thinking entirely over the years, thanks to our leadership, mission, and values. We think outside of the box, and allow the people we serve to do so much more than how we may have been trained in the past.

Steven has spent all of his 35 years in a wheelchair with little community involvement. He is now serving on our Board of Directors and is part of our interviewing team hiring new employees. He also had the opportunity to go ZIP LINING last year on his vacation with Camp Courageous. Wow! What a thrill.

Erin, also in a wheelchair, flew on an airplane for the first time ever in her 33 years to Florida last year. She went to Disney World and experienced a whole multitude of new things. Life-time memories. She wrote her dad a thank you note one day for something special he did for her.

We are teaching everyone we can to make medical appointments for themselves and manage their own medications; or to choose what they want for meals and help prepare them. They are living in the community in homes, just like yours and mine, and help with chores, decorate their own rooms, go to restaurants and movies, and ride the train to Chicago to go to the museums and zoos and parks and ball games – things we ALL love to do.

David, Deana, Annie, Jimmy, Tribecca, Erin, and Zach, just to name a few, have part-time jobs either in the community or through the Goldie Floberg employment programming. These hard-working friends are experiencing the independence, self-worth, and a little extra spending money (BAM!) that come with having your job.

People with Autism Spectrum Disorder can lead productive, happy, fulfilling lives IF we help them find their niche and encourage them to grow.

It’s a hard job at times, working with the developmentally disabled, and very challenging. But the joy that comes with it is all consuming when you see Caleb walking for the first time in his life at about age six, or someone learning to use the toilet completely independently for the first time at 21 years old. The hugs you get from some of the guys and girls when they are running errands and stop into the Center, and the SMILES they put out there are priceless. The children and adults we serve are human beings with all the emotions you and I share. They might not always be able to understand or express them, but they will let you know, to the best of their ability. Watch, listen, and learn from them, and love them and treat them with respect.