When Meg Anderson remembers the beginning of her son Grant’s journey with autism, she uses phrases like “when he was a year old, we lost our son” and “he began to regress into his own world.”
She remembers feeling helpless in the face of Grant’s challenges, behaviors, and frequent hospitalizations: “We were at the end of our rope. We were exhausted. We had nowhere to turn.”
But one day a county support worker was able to create some solutions for Grant’s needs, by helping him move into a shift foster home with an amazing staff of caregivers.
As a parent, Meg felt that this was all she could hope for. She was grateful and pleased with the solutions that allowed her son to be safe and cared for: “As a parent, there is nothing more vulnerable than putting your special needs child in the care of others. Nothing.”
One member of the caregiving staff, Xia Xiong, went above and beyond to make a difference in Grant’s life.
Xia was recently honored as the Wisconsin DSP of the Year at the 2017 ANCOR Conference, after being nominated by Meg’s family and by Innovative Services as a truly phenomenal DSP.
According to Meg, when Xia became a member of Grant’s team, that’s when everything changed:
“With Xia, I got so much more than I merely hoped for – I got what I dreamed of. I dreamed of staff that would love him and care for his emotional health – even when at times he is hard to love. I dreamed of staff that would look for innovative solutions to problems as they arose – because we knew that there would be problems. I dreamed of staff that would use their creativity and compassion to improve Grant’s quality of life – not just maintain it. I dreamed of staff that would always look at the positive in every situation – even when I was at my lowest.
From her hand-drawn signs around the house helping remind Grant of daily procedures, to her willingness to try new things to better Grant’s life – like taking him swimming or building him his own Advent calendar, to her ability to look past his extreme behaviors to protect his emotional well-being, even when he is at his most unlovable- Xia epitomizes the type of caregiver every parent dreams of for their child. She doesn’t come to “work” every day – she comes to “Grant’s house” and works to make his life the best it can be every single day. She makes the team stronger. She makes life better for Grant – and she makes life better for me because I know my son is not just kept safe, but cherished and protected. She is his advocate and his champion.”
Xia’s fellow staff at Innovative Services, Inc., have also recognized her outstanding approach to working with her clients:
“Xia was instrumental in preparing Grant to spend a portion of Christmas with his family last year – the first time he had spent any holiday with his family in years. Xia assisted with developing social stories as a learning tool to prepare Grant on what to expect.
Xia has helped Grant to build relationships with his peers at school as well as to manage relationship transitions when his primary educator changed. Outside of school, Xia is involved with Grant in the community, helping him to pursue his interest in swimming.
When Grant began struggling with his perception of law enforcement, Xia was part of the team brainstorming positive interactions in safe environments.
Xia has also developed tremendous relationships with Grant’s family, as well as with the rest of Grant’s care team.
Xia has championed safety protocols within her program, and develop a method for buckling and unbuckling Grant in vehicles to minimize risk – a creative approach which has been recognized as a best practice to be shared with other organizations.
A talented artist, Xia develops chore charts to help Grant as he learns additional responsibilities. She also updates Grant’s communication board and feelings board as his capabilities expand.
When working with Grant, Xia encourages him to be active in his choices. She presents him with new skills to advance, such as lacing his shoes, but keeps an easier alternative of Velcro shoes available, in case he becomes overly frustrated.
Although Xia primarily works with Grant, she is willing to step forward wherever there is a need. She understands everyone needs something, and she takes the time to figure out how to provide for other’s needs, tuning in to each person, asking the right questions, analyzing body language, and searching for the silent signs. She is able to mold herself into the support that each individual needs, even when she is supporting multiple people at once.”
According to Rick Bahr, Innovative Services, Inc.’s COO, Xia exemplifies ISI’s core values in her efforts to support people living the lives of their choice: “Xia makes our organization better, and her service has made a difference for the people she supports. Our organization is eternally grateful for Xia and our entire team of direct support professionals, managers and others who redefine what is possible each and every day.”
Congratulations to Xia – thank you for empowering others through your amazing gifts and heart of service!
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