Time To Find Strength In Each Other

Isaac Esperanza, 21, lives in a small rural Ontario community withhis family. Together with his parents, Angel and Marie, and his independent facilitator, Belinda, they share the experience of renewed hope and building new community life with enhanced connections, increased confidence, and expanded interests.

The Esperanza family expressed their hope of growing more shared family interests and activities while enriching enjoyment and connections with one another and the community. Building a new connection and collaborative relationship with their facilitator Belinda helped tremendously to support the family with imagining possibilities. They now anticipate growing more relationships and opportunities in their lives. Isaac’s father, Angel, shared, “Before people came to see us and we never had the connection and they just left…Belinda came to our home and we talked for a couple of hours, we have a good connection, she is available, she helps a lot, and there is regular contact, by phone and email.” In reflecting on Isaac’s independent facilitator, Angel says, “She has the love and talent to work with people.”

In taking the time to understand the family’s vision and their strengths, hopes and fears, Belinda recognized and acknowledged Isaac’s clear expression of likes and dislikes, of his energy and the contribution of his parent’s collaborative ways. While Isaac and Belinda were able to begin making a list of things Isaac liked that included movies, computers, and Dairy Queen, Isaac’s father was able to recall his son’s comfort around the barns during their visits to a neighboring chicken farm. Belinda imagined local community networks and possibilities where Isaac might enjoy an activity in a similar farm environment. Belinda made a successful connection and linked Isaac with a riding stable and instructor to learn to ride a white Fiord horse at Hope Haven family centre that offers therapeutic riding approximately thirty minutes away. Belinda invited instructors, riders and their families together in advance to get to know one another and get to know about riding together. Further recognizing Isaac’s interest in computers and his comfort on a farm, Belinda shared the idea of making a video of him riding a horse.

Together, Belinda and Isaac’s family also explored the many ways relationships could grow with one another, including having the opportunity to connect with other families that share the experience of living with autism. Isaac’s mother, Marie and father, Angel, value these new interactions and sharing with other families living in the surrounding rural community. Angel notes, “I learned a lot of things I didn’t know before. I met a lot of families that we know how they live because of our shared experience with Autism.”As Isaac’s parents have come to appreciate, families learning with other families can be an important support for Independent Facilitation

The facilitator Belinda shares an understanding of the strength of family participation and the planning process. Opportunities continue to develop and Isaac is growing in social skills, communication skills, and is working toward the longer-term goal of working with computers. “I love seeing him so happy, being able to interact with him,” says his father.

Isaac continues to enjoy frequent visits to the barn. He anticipates being with the horse and with the instructor, listening carefully to the instructor as he develops this new relationship with the horse.” He is open to participating with the community, accepting Belinda’s invitation to demonstrate riding for other families in the future. Both Isaac’s mother and father believe, “Independent Facilitation is definitely unique…Thank you very much. We are really happy with the success.” Isaac added, “Thank you.”

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