June 2, 2022
Ethan Pursues a Self-Directed Future
An individual we serve is better prepared for life after high school because of Care Coordination support.
This month, Ethan O’Dell will be graduating from high school. He will be moving beyond the long-term support state education has offered him as a person with autism. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was unclear how Ethan would find the services he needed to transition effectively to the next part of his life.
Jessica Martin began working with Person Centered Services in March of 2020, just a week before the pandemic brought new challenges to her role. At the time, Ethan and his family were considering Self-Directed Services. Though Jessica was a brand new Care Coordinator, she was able to navigate a very complex system to secure this opportunity for Ethan by September of that year.
“It wouldn’t be as easy for Ethan without Self-Direction in place,” says Jessica. “He now has really good supports surrounding him.”
Throughout the pandemic, Jessica continuously advocated for Ethan’s needs. She made sure both his mental and physical health were prioritized.
“Ethan was actually one of the first on my caseload to get into a vaccine clinic when they were finally approved for his age,” she says. “As soon as it was safe for him to go back to his respite program, we got that going for him again and he was so excited to be able to see his friends.”
In the past, Ethan struggled with significant behavioral issues. In recent years, he has seen continuous improvement. Jessica has helped support the family as Ethan tries new activities at a pace that makes sense for him and respects his boundaries.
“Ethan has had a difficult path,” says his mother, Karen O’Dell. “He’s just a miracle right now – he is a joy. People who know him now cannot believe how far he has come.”
Karen appreciates how Jessica partners with her family to ensure that Ethan receives the very best opportunities and resources available.
“Jessica is always very communicative,” says Karen. “Her follow-up is great!”
Now that pandemic restrictions have lessened, Ethan is making the most of it. In his free time, he loves visiting local stores and restaurants, where he shows a sophisticated taste in a variety of dishes. He appreciates many different textures and has a particular love for seafood. He also likes to watch travel shows that highlight cuisines from around the world.
After he graduates high school, Ethan is looking forward to finding job opportunities in his community through Employment Services at Intandem. He is willing to try out different roles to see which one suits him best. Though he is unsure of where the future will lead, his network of support provides him with the confidence he needs to move forward.
“I think about how two years have flown by as I have built a partnership with a lovely family,” says Jessica, who is excited for Ethan’s future. “By the time we all met in person, after so many virtual conversations, it felt like we had known each other forever. Ethan did an amazing job bringing me into his life.”