If you met Chip, you’d probably see him as a personable, friendly and articulate 33-year-old guy who loves music and writes poetry. You would, according to his mom, Linda, be largely unaware of his hidden disabilities. But Chip has been diagnosed with ADHD and chronic low-grade depression. Chip also has hearing loss in his right ear and has non-verbal learning disabilities, which means he has difficulty reading body language and distinguishing voice inflections. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in English from a local college and has lived on his own since his early twenties.
“Chip is very good at speaking and writing,” says his mom. “He writes music and poetry, he’s up on world affairs and he’s an avid reader. But he doesn’t always come across well, so he does poorly at job interviews. His disabilities cause him to get into difficulties at work; his performance doesn’t always match his intellect. He was having trouble finding good jobs well-suited to his capabilities.”
That is, until Linda and Chip were told about Horizon. According to Linda, Horizon has helped Chip tremendously, and is the reason he’s now employed full-time at a job he loves and is good at.
“We tried several agencies,” said Linda, “but they were placing him in inappropriate jobs that were low-paying, with no opportunity for advancement. One agency placed him as a prep cook at a busy restaurant. It was horrible: too noisy, too confusing, too stressful for someone with Chip’s problems. They failed to recognize that.”
But that all changed when Linda heard about the vocational program at Horizon. Chip was eager to try it and so, last summer, he enrolled in the program. And it’s clearly helping him.
“Chip keeps saying that, out of all the agencies and people he’s worked with, Horizon has helped him the most,” says Linda. “They are professional, encouraging, enthusiastic and supportive.”
“Chip was discouraged and unhappy when he came to our program,” says Rebecca Rechlin, former coordinator of vocational services. “He had the potential but not the tools to fulfill his goals and his dreams. We saw a 180-degree turnaround in Chip’s attitude and behavior as he became more self-assured and got into a job where he felt fulfilled and worthwhile.”
Chip was particularly excited when Horizon made a videotape of a mock job interview with him. He and his counselor sat down to watch the tape, and Chip was able to see what he had done wrong and what he had done right. The counselor, said Chip, “gently pointed out my weaknesses, but also pointed out my strengths, which helped me feel better about myself.”
Chip and Linda say they are impressed with how Horizon recognized that Chip’s various disabilities combined to cause problems, and that they worked to change that. He’s undergone testing he’s never had before, and he’s learning a lot about himself as a result. Because Horizon’s focus is on the positive, Chip’s self esteem and self-confidence have been boosted.
The program is very demanding, which also appeals to Chip. “He had to make a time commitment, go out and buy the newspaper, be actively engaged in finding work and do other tasks such as sending thank you notes after job interviews,” says Linda. “But Horizon kept an eye out for him, helping him whenever he needed it.”
Today, Chip is employed as a rehabilitation specialist at a local human services agency, where he works with brain trauma patients – a job he never would have thought he could handle ten years ago. Chip helps his clients function better in society, whether it’s learning to set a table or how to conduct themselves in a movie theater. He loves his job, and has really come to understand that a person can become disabled at any time.
Linda says she’s thrilled to see how much Chip has matured since joining the Horizon program, and that he has so much more self-confidence and self-esteem. She’s pleased her son is happy, and that he looks forward to each new day at his rewarding job.
Path To Recovery
The Path To Recovery includes true stories of consumers who overcame many obstacles with the help of Horizon Health Services to turn their lives around. Last names have been omitted for privacy.