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Choosing Independence in Supported Independent Living

With perseverance, discipline, self-awareness, and life-changing support from Ability Beyond, Rob was able to make the courageous transition from one of our community living arrangements (CLA) to his very first apartment, which he shares in Danbury with just one roommate.

“He is basically the quintessential example of independence,” said Tanya Medve, Director of Services at Ability Beyond. “The day we met, he knew what he wanted. He looked me in the eye and told me. Then he went after it, and he didn’t stop until he got it.”

On his 27th birthday, Rob enjoyed a low-key celebration. He took some time off work at Big Y, went to Cold Stone, and welcomed friends to his own apartment to make dinner.

“It’s the first time I felt comfortable on my birthday,” Rob said. “I was in my own space, free to do what I pleased.”

That hasn’t always been the case for Rob, who began receiving supportive services when he was 12 years old.

“I never wanted my schedule to be made up by somebody else,” Rob said. “I wanted the opportunity to choose.”

One Accomplishment at at Time

Rob's path to independence has been marked by personal growth and goal-setting.

“It’s always about having something better than I had the last time,” Rob said.

At 15, he focused on building a strong personal hygiene routine.  by 18, he challenged himself to be less shy—and a stronger advocate for himself. At 21, he recognized that some of his close relationships were holding him back, so he poured his energy into healthy ones. And at 25, he set a goal to live on his own.

“I got there at 26,” he said. “That’s pretty close.”

Of course, graduating from a CLA to his own apartment required some serious adjustments for Rob. For instance, he suddenly had to remember his own account numbers, which staff used to manage. And rather than traveling with a group every time he wanted to go out, he had to get himself around.

“There was a lot of travel training to help Rob gain independence with transportation,” said Program Manager Jen Baskay. “Although he was quite reluctant, he has been super successful going from SweetHART that comes straight to the door, to utilizing the city bus.”

Now Rob has a new set of goals, like starting a gym routine and channeling the emotions from a tough breakup into his solo rap music. By 30, he hopes to have his driver’s license.

Beyond the Basics

Although Rob welcomed the change when he graduated from our CLA after four years, he still goes back to visit and hang out. He said his housemates and staff helped him grow by leaps and bounds as a person.

“Ability Beyond is probably the best placement I’ve had since I was 12 years old,” he said. “They understand that we’re human too, and it’s not just what the staff says that goes. They listen to what we have to say.”

He added: “It’s been the best opportunity for me to grow, mature, and blossom.”

Part of that blossoming was coming out to his mother as a gay man during the COVID lockdown. It was a tough conversation during a historically challenging time, but Rob gained confidence and courage from Ability Beyond manager Amy Dube.

“Without her, I don’t know where I’d be,” Rob said.

Now, he said, he and his mother enjoy a more authentic relationship.

“She’s always there for me, and she loves me no matter what,” he said. “I am my mother’s son. She raised me to take care of myself.”

Take Action

Ability Beyond supports hundreds of individuals with residential living services from group homes to supported independent living. Donate today and help others like Rob achieve their dreams.