College and A Drivers License: A BIG Deal for DLSS!

There is some major celebrating going on in southern Maine. One of our clients has enrolled in York Country Community College and is getting his drivers license, two things "unimaginable" a year ago, according to Teresa Roberson, program manager for our Community Mental Health Services (also called Daily Living Support Services, or DLSS). Our dedicated staff has been working with this client for more than a year and we are all thrilled for him, and for us.

DLSS currently works with 22 adults living with mental illness and pervasive developmental disorders, helping them develop the skills they need to live in their local communities. "For counselors whose clients are on the autism spectrum, it is not easy work," says Teresa, "it's constant hands on, eyes on."

This time of year, those clinical terms translate to getting clients outside in the warm weather. The idea is to be in the client's home or community, with other people, doing "regular" kinds of things in their own environments. One-on-one time is essential to our clients' progress. Trust is everything.

Recently, several clients and their counselors went to the Yarmouth Clam Festival and had a wonderful time.

That might sound like an obvious outcome, but for some people, going to a busy summer festival (100,000 people attended this year), and enjoying themselves despite intense difficulty with social interactions, is a major milestone.

The bonds that form in one-on-one client/counselor relationships are strong and affirming. Having a trusted counselor at your side can make it possible to leave your house when all of your impulses are telling you to stay put.

Many of our clients are in adult day programs and DLSS counselors meet with them for afternoon and evening activities, helping them go grocery shopping, make dinner, clean the house, visit with family…the kinds of things most of us take for granted as a "normal" day. But being on the autism spectrum or having anxiety disorders can make day-to-day activities into epic challenges.

Clients and caregivers alike are concerned about changes in MaineCare's Section 17 funding and eligibility rules, some of which could have dramatic affect. Teresa comes to work each day with hope, ready to do her job, scheduling 22 clients' needs with case workers' and counselors' availability. She also does continuous supervision and is a patient, calming voice when calls come in.

Many of our staff have come from children's services, staying with their clients as they have grown into adults. "They are seasoned case workers, real pros, incredible people," she says, "It's all about communication," says Teresa, "If we are all communicating with each other, we can do great things."

"Great things" like helping a client achieve his life dreams of college and a driver's license, or being able to laugh during a summer festival.

For staff availability and geographic locations, please call 207-571-3259.