It’s National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and throughout the month you’ll hear about people we serve who are thriving with a little support from AbleLight and our dedicated direct support professionals (DSPs) who recognize their unique abilities, their special gifts, and create opportunities for them.
Today, we meet Tyler, a DSP in a position to truly understand the people he serves.
Tyler has autism and had begun to believe he’d never find a job after applying for hundreds in a year and finding nothing.
“He’s just different enough that people subconsciously kind of know that he’s a little different, but it’s not different enough to inspire compassion,” said Tyler’s mom Shannon.
The AbleLight Team in Oregon gave Tyler a chance, just as they create wonderful opportunities for the people they serve. Tyler had to go through the interview process like any other candidate for a DSP position and he earned the job as anyone else would.
“Having a job is amazing, just absolutely amazing,” said Tyler. “This job definitely gives me that feeling of, ‘yeah, I did something. I actually helped people.’”
The difference between AbleLight and the employment opportunities that never called? At AbleLight we know that everyone has unique abilities. Given the right opportunity and support we can all shine. DSPs like Tyler who engage with the people they serve to understand and meet their unique needs know this better than anyone.
“Tyler, he’s really a good worker. I really enjoy working with him,” said Kathryn Crisman, program manager at the home in Cornelius, Washington, where Tyler works. “He understands the individual. He’s able to also do some teaching, and that’s what we do as DSPs I really admire the fact that Tyler’s willing to work really close with everybody.”
Music complements Tyler’s passion and understanding
Playing piano is one of Tyler’s unique gifts and it helped him develop a special bond with Mike in the Cornelius home. They share a love of music and Tyler helps Mike play piano. When Mike wanted to learn “Chariots of Fire,” Tyler was unfamiliar, but jumped in. He listened to the music on his phone, began playing along and taught Mike part of the melody. They were playing together in minutes, with Tyler leading the way.
“It felt amazing,” said Tyler. “Oh my gosh, I actually got him to be able to do that. Even if all he can play are simple tunes, it’s still fun to just see someone able to play an instrument and experience the joy of playing.”
When asked if he liked Tyler, Mike said, “Oh Yeah!” Tyler’s final thought on his new job? “I’m really happy I got this job.”