Hacienda Families – A Father’s Story

Watching your Autistic child becoming a man is scary! So many questions, not many resources for information or help! How do you help prepare him for the “real world”? How do you tap into the knowledge and skills in his head? After years of searching, chasing dreams and heading down dead-end roads, we found Hacienda HealthCare!

When Aidan started at Hacienda HealthCare in the ASD Vocational Training Technology Implementation Program (TIP), he was comfortable with life. His routine of comfort made it challenging to try new things. There was a comfort of the known and current successes. In the past if something didn’t work, failed or broke, the family would have to deal with a potential “meltdown”! No one likes to be unsuccessful or disappointing to someone. The fear of what might happen would hold him back. Is he capable, yes, far beyond his comfort zone!

Hacienda’s Vocational Training Program has been a blessing! Our son Aidan has blossomed with the feeling of success and purpose. Tom Burick, the TIP program manager and job coach, and the TIP team have provided guidelines of expectation and exposure to new and challenging thinking. Aidan is learning to deal with the what-ifs’ or ‘what went wrong’. Problem solving is being implemented into his everyday experience. We can see the benefits of these experiences carrying over at home and in life. He is more able to communicate with us and can better explain the cause and effects of what’s happening in his life. Aidan is better at managing his emotional highs and lows. Every day, Aidan is excited to go to work where he gets to experience real life situations with successes and failure. The fulfillment of earning a paycheck builds his self-worth! All of which are experienced through real life technology.

Technology is constantly moving forward and changing. Aidan gets pushed out of his comfort zone to experience things he normally wouldn’t try. Aidan is brilliant in the world of computers. He can spend hours a day in a world that his family can’t keep up with. Job coach, Tom and the Hacienda TIP program challenge him in new concepts. This is a very difficult task with men as smart as Aidan. Adapting a training program to independent thinking individuals is even more amazing! Through the Vocational Training Program Aidan has a new-found confidence. With exposure to the hardware side of computers, he has set up a work station at home and now adapts older computers and gaming systems to function with today’s technology. He is modifying and soldering PC boards and components. Information and operating systems are being programmed, changed and upgraded. Aidan is now buying and selling computer parts and gaming systems on-line for income.

By Dan Halpin

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