I met Alan in the summer of 2007 at his home that he lived in with his mother, Karen. Alan is a vibrant young man who lived a typical life until the age of 11. He participated in school activities, sports, and clubs. On June 2nd, 1993, Alan had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) while attending a Boy Scout meeting. He subsequently had a cerebral hemorrhage and ended up in a coma. Since his AVM, Alan has been using a wheelchair and has had to learn how to eat, breath, toilet and transfer on his own.
Alan decided long ago not to let his AVM define who he was or is going to be. Alan’s mom Karen adapted her house perfectly for Alan’s accessibility and has been a fierce support and advocate to him. They have a very close relationship, one that is unbreakable. Alan is an athlete and a student at San Diego State University. He is working toward a Communication degree and hopes to become a screenwriter. Alan also serves as the Associated Student Body Disability Commissioner at San Diego State University.
Upon meeting Alan, two things were clear: 1) Karen was skeptical, though supportive of his desire to move into his own place with the help of his selected supported living agency Life Works. 2) Alan had a specific idea of where he wanted to live and was determined to be as patient as possible in finding that place. He put his name on waiting lists for several apartment complexes that met his standards along with offering “affordable rates” and waited for the call. It took over a year from when our agency was officially ready to provide support to when Alan found the place he currently lives. It was during this time that we as an agency began to realize that Alan would be the living example of someone who would flourish and grow as an independent person once he lived on his own. It seemed that he may be held back by his mother and her concerns at times, but since his move, Alan has found a great balance of living on his own and developing an adult relationship with his mother.
Alan lives independently now, with supports, in a luxury apartment complex. He moved into his apartment in September 2008. His apartment is along the Trolley Line, by no accident, making getting to school and appointments manageable. Alan has learned how to direct his services through interviewing potential support people, dealing with concerns and issues directly with the person involved, and collaborating with his Life Work’s management team. It is a pleasure to watch Alan spread his wings. He leads as “normal” a life that any mid-20’s college student does. It is truly amazing to be a part of his evolution as an independent person in the community. Alan breathes everything that is right about supported living and it is my hope that he can continue to realize every dream his life has ever presented. Who knows, maybe Alan’s story will inspire both individuals who dream of living life on their terms and individuals who hold the power to keep supported living services an option for people.