Featured TECH Client | Casey McLain
Our involvement with TECH started in July, 1980. At that time, TECH was about 7 years old and our son, Casey, was 1 month old. Two specialists from TECH’s Infant and Toddler Program called on us at home to show ways we could stimulate his senses until September when their school year started. Then, for the next 3 years, the Infant and Toddler folks started their home visits. Their goal is to get families and parents involved in the stimulation and education of their new special needs family member. The speech, occupational and physical therapists all helped us as a family set goals for Casey, plus prepared for his transitions and developing skills these first 3 years.
The staff set our expectations HIGH. They convinced us that parents are the best teachers and decision makers for their kids. They said if we didn’t expect much from Casey, that’s what we would get out of him—NOT MUCH. They told us Casey would be able to sign before he could talk-- not to let him get away with huh-h-h and point—but make him ask for food. We made him sign ‘yes’ when asked if he was hungry, sign ‘I’m full’, ‘please’ ‘thank you’, and unfortunately ‘no’. The ‘no’ was his favorite sign and he used it quite often. We all learned to sign along with Casey.
His benchmarks came at a later age then for our first 3 kids, but it was a celebration when they were met. They planted the idea of helping him live life to the fullest in his least restrictive environment . . . and that would take the efforts of our whole family to see that he got there. We grew to regret this later when he was 5 or so and the older sibs would say, “Mom, Casey didn’t make his bed—or Dad, he didn’t brush his teeth” or whatever. Then the weary parent would have to intervene and see that all were treated equally. At ages 3-5, Casey went to the Early Education Center. While at the EEC, he was also able to attend two ‘normal’ pre-schools. At age 6, he entered the Hutchinson School’s Special Education Program—first at Avenue A School, then onto Hutchinson High School. He was a cub scout and also played regular T-ball one year before starting to participate in Special Olympics Sports. Through the years, he has bowled, played basketball, volleyball, track and field events.
While he was still in high school, Casey became a Mass Server at Holy Cross Church and did job training at Pastolies Italian restaurant, which became a paying job at graduation. He moved into a house with two roommates his last year of high school. Casey has lived alone for the past 12 years and enjoys his independence, with help from TECH’s Residential Services. He has been employed the past 12 years as part-time custodial help at Holy Cross Catholic School, has become an usher at church and volunteers weekly at the Food Bank. He is a big sports nut, hosts an annual Super Bowl Party at his house, has a great sense of humor and loves to email.
Our goal as a family has been for him to function at the best of his ability. We tried to treat him no differently than our 3 older children—to respect others, be responsible, set goals, and work hard. He has taught our family unconditional love, tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness and patience. Plus he is happy most all of the time. We believe Casey operates near his Full Potential. We owe this to our family and lots of outside help and reinforcement from the community. We are especially indebted to the early intervention at TECH’s Infant and Toddler Program, the Early Education Center and TECH’s Adult Residential Services. TECH showed us the way and helped push us in that direction.