David, a 26-year-old adult with autism, is a participant in the Job Readiness Program (JRP) at Madison Fields. He joined the program in September 2019. His growth, leadership skills, and contagious enthusiasm is immense, and that’s exactly why we’re shining the spotlight on him![Read more…] about In the Spotlight: David, Job Readiness Program
There’s no doubt that this time has presented us all with a set of new challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented each family with a set of unique challenges. Right now, some mothers are home with their children during the stay-at-home order attempting to juggle working from home and teaching their children, some have to seek new jobs as the world seems to shift to a “new normal,” some have been serving on the frontlines to keep the world outside of their homes running.
No matter the situation your family is in, there is no doubt that your mother figure, grandmother, and/or caretaker(s) deserve some extra recognition and thanks this Mother’s Day!
The staff at Madison Fields wants to thank all of the hard-working moms out there who keep our world spinning! Please download this packet we’ve created for Mother’s Day and give a little thanks to the mother figure in your life! She deserves it!
The Madison Fields Job Readiness program provides structured opportunities for young adults with autism or I/DD (intellectual/developmental disabilities) to discover an interest in agriculture, expand current knowledge, and develop new skills. Each session runs 6 to 8 weeks. When a member of the team completes a session, they are awarded a certificate that notes their hard work and specific skill development.
Most participants continue their educational journey with us, completing multiple sessions to continue building on their skills. In returning session after session, relationships are fostered between participants, peers, and staff members.
Our programs are now closed until further notice because of COVID-19 and the Stay-At-Home order. Day services are also closed, which most of our participants attend on a regular basis. The closing of programs and day services tremendously impact our participants, their families, and their caregivers; the disruption of routine and lack of face-to-face communication leaves individuals feeling lonely and isolated.
Our Job Readiness Program Manager, Nancy Frasche, has been working to keep our participants’ routines as normal as possible with virtual meet-ups, online activities, etc. during scheduled program hours.
Nancy asked some parents for personal statements, regarding the effect of program closures on their adult children who have been affected by program closures. Read below to find out how some of our participants have been impacted.
Anne & Del B.’s Statement
Our son, David, is a 25 year old living with autism. Prior to the quarantine, he participated in a day program 5-days a week and had a one-on-one community support assistant. As part of his regular programming, David also had been participating in the Madison Fields Job Readiness Program with his job coach, learning farm skills and how to take care of the horses, goats, and chickens. He really loved his co-workers, coaches, and the animals. The remainder of his week was spent in community based activities with his day program peers.
The Job Readiness Program at Madison Fields has been exceptional, as David has acquired new skills but most importantly, he has grown as an individual. Over these last few months, David has shown a greater ability to focus on the task at hand while engaging appropriately with others in a work environment. He also shows a greater sense of accomplishment, pride, motivation, and has found a few new friends. He is all smiles on Madison Fields’ work days!
Since the onset of the pandemic and the stay-at-home order, our family is at home like everyone else. However, for David, the transition has been very difficult. He likes his routine and actually derives much comfort from it. David likes the same activities, with the same people, and the same experiences. He is not fond of change. As a family, we set up recurring activities such as reading, writing practice, walking the dogs, Facetime calls with friends and family, and a few extra chores. He also participates in selecting and preparing meals, and likes to critique the meals we prepare to determine if Mom or Dad needs to be “Chopped!” However, he misses his day program and Madison Fields the most.
Madison Fields recognized the need to keep the farm community and program participants connected, starting Zoom lunch calls twice a week. It has been a great way to keep David connected. The program also started a YouTube page with videos and learning resources on various farm topics. He enjoys them, and Mom and Dad are learning a lot of new things too! David even had the opportunity to have a Zoom chat with his favorite horse, Shay! He was sooooo excited!
Creating these opportunities for him to continue to learn and to engage with others have meant so much. The activities have also helped our family to build additional structure into his day.
This pandemic is certainly not a good thing all around; however, our special needs populations are the most vulnerable. Thank you to the staff at Madison Fields for the continued services and your compassion for others. We all appreciate you more than you know. You are having a real impact!
Anne and Del B.
Nancy T.’s Statement
Before the lockdown was put in place, my son Willie, 22, was attending the Job Readiness program every Tuesday and Thursday at Madison Fields.
Willlie’s diagnosis is autism and ADHD. He has received services through the state of Maryland Department of Developmental Disabilities. Willie has been working with a one-on-one aide, Aboukar Kanfor, who picks him up at our home and brings him to the farm.
The farm program has been wonderful because Willie loves working with animals. The job skills he is learning have been invaluable. Also, he has been able to interact with staff, meet new people, learn new skills and prepare for possible future employment. He received a certificate of completion after the winter session at the farm and was ready to begin the spring session when the program was closed due to the Coronavirus.
Now Willie stays home, playing games on his computer. He has not been outside the house in 3 weeks. He is becoming increasingly bored and isolated, losing skills and losing connections.
I am unable to offer the program, stimulation and skills that Madison Fields has provided.
I hope Madison Fields is able to reopen the program soon. When it is safe, I know Willie would love to be back at the farm. He misses the horses, the goats, the soap factory, the staff, the other participants and everything else at the farm.
Nancy T. (Willie’s Mother)
Find out more about how Nancy is keeping our participants engaged, virtually: Video
The Madison Fields EAAT team is devoted to improving our participants’ quality of life through developing and fostering healing relationships with our therapeutic riding horses. Today, we are honored to put the spotlight on one of our riders, Max! Read more to find out what his family had to say about his experience at the farm.[Read more…] about In the Spotlight | Max