When you enter through the doors of Residence 41 at Fairview Developmental Center, you see what can only be described as a holding area. Residence Unit 41 is a locked unit where to your left, and to your right, you will find day rooms, and bunking areas, common areas shared by several adult men. In one of these rooms is usually where you will find Joaquin, along with about 9 of his fellow residents. Joaquin is a man who has wants and desires and needs. These are not met in his current living situation. However, Joaquin is hopeful, knowing that Steak is coming!
Joaquin was born in September of 1969 to a loving family. At 2 years old, he was diagnosed with Autism. Joaquin started school at age 6 where he was placed in a segregated classroom, only to be moved to a non-public school for children with autism. This school used aversive conditioning for behavior modification. Joaquin was at this school until he was expelled at 17.
In 1987, Joaquin was moved to Fairview State Developmental Center.
In 1996, Joaquin was placed in the community and lived at a group home and attended a day program in Oceanside, CA. It was documented at both the group home and the day program that Joaquin's aggressive behavior toward staff was on the rise. In 2003, Joaquin was removed from his day program due to maladaptive behaviors. Not long after in early 2004, Joaquin was discharged from his group home after several stints in the local hospital's psychiatric unit due to aggressive behaviors toward self and others. On the same day that Joaquin was discharged from his group home, he again was placed at Fairview State Developmental Center.
Throughout his adult life, Joaquin was put on many psychotropic medications. His family felt and observed that he had adverse reactions to these medications, and that they were to blame for his increasing behavioral outbursts. It seemed as though no one else in Joaquin's life wanted to hear that. They felt as though the answer to Joaquin's problems were to put him on more medication. No one took into consideration that maybe what Joaquin needed was a lifestyle change. Perhaps Joaquin needed to be heard. Perhaps Joaquin needed the opportunity to make choices about where he was living and who he was living with.
Almost six years later, Joaquin is still residing at Fairview. However, for the past year and half, a change has been coming. This will be a big change in Joaquin's life. This will be a change to a place where Joaquin can make his own decisions. The things that people seem to take for granted in life, the opportunity to live where one wants, to do the things that one wants to do, to be a part of a community of one's choosing, will be given to Joaquin.
Life Works, along with Joaquin's family, are committed to giving this opportunity to Joaquin. Together, they are working diligently to move Joaquin into his own home in Jamul, CA in the same community that his family lives. Together, they are working to give the opportunity to Joaquin, who is a man of movement, to go for as many walks as he wants throughout his day. Together, they are working to bring Joaquin home to a community that knows and loves him. Together, they are working to give Joaquin the same opportunities that everyone else has and deserves.
When Joaquin was asked what he wanted his mom to make for his first meal when he arrived home to stay, he replied, "Steak." Since that time, Joaquin's homecoming has been excitedly referred to by Joaquin and those around him as, "Steak is coming!" Joaquin understands the opportunities that are coming his way. He is excited to once again be living in the community. This time, he won't live in a house with five other individuals. This time, he won't have to follow the same routines and schedules as everyone else in the house. Joaquin will have specialized supports that do not include psychotropic meds that he has adverse reactions to. He will be able to live a life that he chooses and with the people that love him so dearly.
For Joaquim, steak is coming!