Trainee stories: Braden"Braden may still live with us for the rest of our lives but for the first time ever we feel he has opportunity. And he feels he has purpose." - Lori, parent of Steps trainee Braden.
Braden, 19, joined the Steps vocational programme as a trainee in October 2018. Listen to his mother, Lori, tell the story of how Steps has helped to transform all their lives. You can also read the transcript below.
Hello. My name is Lori Boll and my husband and I are the proud parents of Braden, a trainee at Steps. I am so happy to have been given this opportunity to share with you why Steps has been so important to our family.
As American International school teachers we are expats who have taught in many different countries, including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and China. Braden, who is 19, was diagnosed with autism at the age of five. He is non-verbal and intellectually delayed. This has made life as an expat difficult as we have always had to create the programmes that Braden attended. International schools would not serve his needs. Bangkok provided a unique opportunity for us as there were schools and programmes in place to meet his needs.
When Braden was young, and it became clear to us just how severe his needs were Mike and I came to a conclusion, and understanding that Braden would be living with us for the rest of our lives. We accepted this as truth but also made it our goal to work with him so he could be as independent as possible. When he turned 18 it became apparent that school was no longer appropriate for him. So what next?
“This boy was finally being given an opportunity. An opportunity to contribute to society in a meaningful way.”
And then, Steps opened, and we had hope. When Steps opened two years ago Max let us know that while they would love to have Braden, Steps was still too new and they weren’t ready to take someone with his level of need. We understood. Braden with his unpredictable behaviours and inability to express himself would have been too difficult during the beginning stages. So we had Braden continue with his schooling while we searched for other options. In September Max wrote to tell me that they thought they were ready for Braden and that he could start at the end of October. I’m not sure anyone could ever understand what I felt in that moment unless they had been there themselves.
This boy. This boy who cannot express himself, who tears apart his shoes, who sobs uncontrollably, for reasons we cannot see or imagine and who didn’t sleep for years. This boy was finally being given an opportunity. An opportunity to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Which is all we, as parents of children with special needs, really want for our kids. It was also something that Michael and I wondered if it could ever even be possible.
“We can tell that he feels good about himself and what he has accomplished each and every day.”
Mike and I have noticed a change in Braden since he first started at Steps. We can tell that he feels good about himself and what he has accomplished each and every day. He smiles when we ask him about Steps. We smile too.
Braden may still live with us for the rest of our lives but for the first time ever we feel he has opportunity. And he feels he has purpose.
He is a proud working man. And we are his proud parents.