Robert’s Story

The Family Leadership Series helped Robert and his family navigate an uncertain time.

Robert joined Community Living Ontario’s Family Leadership Series earlier this year. After his first weekend, where he heard from other families in similar situations, Robert felt relieved  “I am not alone. That relief helped me to get more energy and purpose to move forward.”

Robert, his wife Dorothy and their 20-year old son Joshua live in Mississauga, Ontario. When Joshua was little, he was diagnosed with a global developmental delay. At age 17, he was also diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Joshua has many interests, which include watching the news and singing to gospel music. He dreams of one day becoming a news broadcaster.  He typically enjoys social activities by participating in cooking, skating, karate classes and working out with a personal fitness trainer at their local community centre. Of course, COVID-19 has changed his life considerably. As some of these activities have transitioned online, Joshua is disappointed and wonders when the pandemic will be over so he can return to his typical life’s activities.

While Dorothy had hoped to attend the series with Robert, they did not feel they could leave Joshua alone. Robert feels privileged to have this opportunity to learn from others, including guest facilitator Darcy Elks. Robert says that his vision for Joshua dramatically changed after hearing Darcy share her story. “She told us to set aside our assumptions and set the bar higher for Joshua; before the series, we thought that day programs were most suitable for him. Now, we are going to try to find employment that is suitable for Joshua with the right supports.”

Usually, part of the Family Leadership Series involves caregivers coming together in a retreat away from the rest of their family. This enables them to be physically and mentally present, separated from the day-to-day demands of caring for someone with a disability. They take time to listen, learn and think about new possibilities for their loved ones. It also provides an opportunity for families to connect on a deeper level more quickly. “You get drawn to each other and have frank and honest discussions in the first few minutes of meeting each other,” said Robert.

Due to the pandemic, in-person sessions have been put on-hold. However, families of people who have an intellectual disability are still in need of support.  In response, Community Living Ontario has worked with guest educator Darcy Elks to shift the series online, keeping families connected and engaged with their learning.

By donating today, you are helping Community Living Ontario to engage even more families to join our online initiatives. You are providing people who have an intellectual disability and their families with the resources to imagine new possibilities and lead more fulfilling lives.

We have been able to adapt our Family Leadership Series to these unprecedented circumstances. With your help, we can continue to support people who have an intellectual disability and their families in these isolating times.

At Community Living Ontario, we understand that you may currently be facing increased demands on your time and resources. That is why we are so appreciative of any donation made in support of our online family engagement work!