Training Program Extends Lifeline For Disabled

By  //  April 23, 2012

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Julie Freeman, left, lead behavior specialist at Behavior Services of Brevard's Adult Training Center, congratulates participant Paddy Harris for an award he won at the center recently. (Images by Ed Pierce)

BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA – They may be short of basic skills many of us take for granted, but participants in Behavioral Services of Brevard’s Adult Training Center have found a beacon of hope for the future.

Those who participate in the Enterprises Adult Day Training program offered at 550 St. Johns Street in Cocoa by Behavioral Services of Brevard have an identified disability and a behavioral barrier, such as autism or communicative disorders.

Each of the 17 to 25 individuals who participate in the training receive coaching and instruction in fundamental life skills.

Whether it is something as simple as showering, doing laundry, turning on the television or cooking, the goal is to help participants master whatever they need to function in the community.

Activities

That includes academic lessons as well as community activities. Some participants volunteer at the Central Brevard Humane Society, Keep Brevard Beautiful, or Meals on Wheels, or are able to go roller skating, shopping or go to the park.

“It is a program that is valuable to the individuals we serve and valuable to our community,” said Tiki Fiol, program manager for Behavioral Services of Brevard’s Adult Training Center. “We’re a small group that makes a big difference in Brevard.”

Fiol said watching the participants grow and develop skills makes her job worthwhile.

Tiki Fiol, left, program manager for Behavior Services of Brevard's Enterprise Adult Training Center joins founder and chief executive officer Dr. Karen Wagner

”Seeing individuals come into the program with limited skills and then seeing their progress and prospects for employment is amazing,” she said. “Parents who think their son or daughter couldn’t do this are surprised with what can be accomplished here.”

The training program is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and every participant has an individual skills program. Fiol said individuals are funded through Medicaid’s waiver system.

Godsend

For Sarah Kidd of Titusville, the training her 26-year-old daughter Kristy Kidd receives at the center is a godsend.

Participant Billy Webster enjoys the festivities at a Behavior Services of Brevard's Enterprise Adult Training Center party.

“Kristy has severe autism and is on an extreme behavior program,” Kidd said. “My husband died a year ago and this is the only program that will take her. Kristy came here right out of high school and they have been my ally and stand beside me. They support families 365 days a year. If you need anything, they help you and I couldn’t ask for a better program.”

She said her daughter is learning daily living skills and has made tremendous progress since joining the program.

“Before coming here, Kristy couldn’t go to restaurants because of her behavior, or go to a movie, or go to church,” Kidd said. “She’s able to do all that now and for me, that’s a lot. She can brush her teeth now, and making toast and tying her shoes. I simply cannot tell you how much they have helped us.”

She said Kristy attends training five days a week in Cocoa and now is able to travel to the center by bus from Titusville to do so.

“I never thought that Kristy could learn to sit on the bus and behave,” Kidd said. “She’s being able to move into society and to be accepted by others after years of professional teachers, specialists and doctors not knowing what to do to help her.”

Huge difference

Chris Watson of Titusville, 28, said the training he has received has made a huge difference in his life.

“I’ve learned how to clean up here, how to turn on the microwave and the dishwasher, and how to go to stores,” he said. “I like being with other people who are like me and understand me. I want to stay with the program and learn how to work and to be independent.”

Behavioral Services of Brevard’s chief executive officer Dr. Karen Wagner said all participants are referred for training to the center by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

“This is the first stand-alone intensive therapy program in the state,” she said.

Wagner said Behavioral Services of Brevard has been providing applied behavior analysis since 1997 and specializes in working with individuals with challenging behaviors, but the organization also serves families coping with mental health issues of children and offers counseling services as well.

Training is available at the center in Cocoa or in the home.

For information, call 321-639-9800 or visit BehaviorServicesofBrevard.com


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