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Client Spotlight: Caedon S.

Posted on : 16 Feb 2023 | No Comments

Can you remember your first apartment after moving out of mom and dad’s house? Reminiscing about decorating exactly to your taste and going to bed whenever you wanted might put a smile on your face. KANDU client Caedon S. is getting to experience living on his own for the first time as a resident of KANDU’s adult family home, and so far, he’s loving it.  

“Caedon has participated in KANDU’s Livin’ & Learnin’ program for about two years now,” explained his mom, Sarah. KANDU’s Livin’ & Learnin’ program is designed to assist individuals with developmental disabilities ages 14 and up with navigating daily living activities outside of school and work.  Each client establishes individual goals to improve self-help, socialization, and adaptive skills to help them thrive within their community and live more independent lives. 

Livin’ & Learnin’ prepared Caedon for some of the responsibilities necessary to live on his own in the adult family home. The Livin’ & Learnin’ program operates out of a house with a full kitchen, living room with a fireplace, laundry room, bedrooms that serve as activity break-out spaces, and a therapeutic sensory room, providing the necessary environment to practice daily living skills as a group. 

“The social aspect is so important for him. He has so many friends, and the highlight of his day is interacting with his friends in the program,” said Sarah. Mom and son are on the same page; according to Caedon, his favorite part of KANDU is “getting to see my buddies. I like hanging out with Ian, who has been my friend since elementary school. And I like hanging out with Ethan, we’ve been friends since high school. And Erica is nice, and she knows me.”  

“Caedon has created many lasting friendships and has matured greatly during his time with us,” said Livin’ & Learnin’ Program Coordinator Erica Mortensen, “He’s a friendly young man and always has the best ideas for outings to add to our daily schedule.” Daily field trips to local businesses, parks, activity centers, and more are scheduled in order to build a sense of independence in each client as they explore their community. It’s one of Caedon’s favorite aspects of the program. While he does feel like mastering chores in the Livin’ and Learnin’ house is “probably his biggest accomplishment” in the program to date, what he really enjoys are the group outings. He listed off some of his favorites over the years, including bowling, shopping, seeing the puppies at the pet store, and visits to the Bodacious coffee shop. “I like Janesville events and going to see bands downtown and the Rock County Fair,” said Caedon. The confidence built while practicing living skills in the Livin’ & Learnin’ program is part of the foundation that set Caedon up for success when it came time for him to move out of his childhood home.  

“Caedon is 20, so we’ve been waiting for two years for a room to become available in an adult home. It can be a long process trying to find a space,” explained Sarah. “When I heard that KANDU had acquired licensing for a home, it was kind of in the back of my mind that this could be an opportunity for us. And then I got a call from Caedon’s case worker that a spot had opened, and we were so excited.” 

“We went through an assessment process and then heard back from Caedon’s case worker that he had been accepted,” said Sarah. “This is his first time living on his own and we were glad that the home is designed for a smaller group of people, so he doesn’t get overwhelmed.” KANDU’s adult family home has the capacity to house four adults with disabilities.  

“This location is right on a paved walking/biking path with a city bus stop .3 miles away.  The house itself is fully ADA accessible with a roll-in shower, accessible tub, and safety measures and mobility aids that ensure our clients always have a comfortable, safe, warm place to live,” explains Client Services Director Julie Smith. Originally built as a community-based residential facility, KANDU took over management of the home and received licensure from the State of Wisconsin in 2022. Clients, including Caedon, moved in shortly after. 

KANDU Client Services Manager Allie Tolson, who staffs the house, explained, “Caedon’s move-in process was like dropping a kid off at college. He was happy and open to the change, but he does miss his family which has been the biggest struggle. I think as adults, all of us can relate to that feeling of leaving home for the first time.” Some homesickness, especially in the beginning, is to be expected, but Allie elaborates, “We make sure Caedon knows he can communicate with his family as much as he wants, and he goes over to his mom’s house a couple of times a month for family dinner.” 

“I think this is Caedon’s best opportunity to keep learning and make his way,” said Sarah. “Nobody wants to listen to their parents, so this is a chance for Caedon to learn from other people. It’s been great so far and I can already see that he is starting to feel even more independent.” The house is staffed by trained professionals like Allie who assist with meals, medications, daily living activities, and other support tasks. “Allie and Christina have been great with communication and working with Caedon. He’s able to gain skills from people who understand his method of learning,” says Sarah. “Caedon is learning the expectations of living in an adult family home,” Allie says, explaining, “He does his laundry, cleans and vacuums his room, and helps with household chores.” 

Allie notes that KANDU’s family home is a place where adults with disabilities are respected and listened to, just like every individual deserves. Plus, the group home provides a built-in family-like atmosphere with the other residents, and you can often find clients collaborating on a puzzle, playing a round of darts together, or relaxing on the couch watching a Sunday football game. “This really is his home away from home,” said Sarah, mentioning the positive changes she has noticed as her son grows into this new experience. 

“I love that the adult family home can be a space for clients to transition into each program that KANDU offers,” says Allie. “For example, in Caedon’s case, he started in Livin’ & Learnin,’ which gave him the opportunity to explore the community and build independence, preparing him to move into the adult family home. Now, hopefully, he will be able to transition into KANDU’s community employment program and prevocational services when he is ready. We offer such a wide variety of programs and services that clients have a lot of tools at their disposal based on what support is needed in each situation.” 

“There’s a quote that says, ‘All a parent needs to know is that the impossible is possible.’ I feel like that perfectly describes Caedon,” said Sarah. “He was really struggling to find his identity as an adult while still living with his parents and he wanted to defy us a little. But now in this new environment, he’s being pushed to try new things, things he thought he was never going to be able to do. What felt impossible, is now possible.”