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Meet Elijah Decker: A Q&A Session


Although many people have heard of the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities, many still don’t know exactly what the board does or what kind of services it provides. In order to give community members a clearer picture, we sat down with Elijah Decker,a young man with a mild intellectual disability who is served by the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Elijah explains the services he receives from the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities and how these services have changed his life.


When did you become involved with the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities?

Elijah began his services with the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities in 2008 after graduating from high school.


What kind of work are you involved in?

Elijah works at the Goodwill Store in Lima on Monday’s, Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s, and Friday’s. He explained the tasks that he typically completes while working at Goodwill. Some of these tasks include: sorting clothing by sizes, putting clothing on hangers, putting clothing out on the racks, and sorting hangers. Elijah has expressed an interest in obtaining other jobs, such as a position at Walmart. When he decides he is ready to take on another job, the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities staff will assist him with a referral.


What kind of services/activities does the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities offer you?

One of the services that the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities provides for Elijah is the opportunity to work at Goodwill. This is called an enclave. With an enclave, the individual will receive a job coach and get to work with other individuals who are served by the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The second service that Elijah is offered is a day program called RMS. This program includes activities like crafts, visiting the library, and small cleaning tasks and chores. With this program, Elijah also gets to occasionally help take cans to a recycling center. Finally, Elijah receives Homemaker Personal Care services which help him out at home and in the community.


One of the biggest benefits that goes along with these programs is that the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities provides Elijah with transportation to and from these locations. How does Elijah afford these services? His waiver helps him pay for all of it.


How has the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities helped you?

Elijah explained that aside from helping him find a job and giving him transportation, the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities helped him find a safe home in a good neighborhood. He is able to take walks around his neighborhood which is one of his favorite things to do. Because of the good neighborhood he lives in, he also is able to and enjoys helping his neighbors shovel snow.


With the help of the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Elijah also received a guardian. The Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities helped coordinate with Probate Court for a guardian to be assigned. Guardians are available to these individuals if they do not have family around and available to help. Elijah’s guardian, Michael Short, helps Elijah make decisions when it comes to his health. His provider helps him to attend and schedule appointments.


The final way that the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities has helped Elijah is one of greatest ways it has helped, and one of the things that makes Elijah’s story so special. Elijah used to have issues controlling his anger; he would lash out, and throw or destroy things in his home. Through these services it was determined that Elijah would like to have a pet fish. The amazing thing about this fish is that it greatly lessened his outbursts of anger. He still has outbursts of anger but it is no longer expressed by tipping furniture over. The fish gave him happiness because he enjoyed being able to take care of the fish. Even aside from the fish, the services that he receives have made him happier. He said that even though he has to get help sometimes, he is happy because he’s still able to have some independence.


How has being involved with the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities changed your life?

Elijah really emphasized that the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities has given him many good people in his life. He has more support from people that make things easier for him. He mentioned Melissa his SSA, LaShawnda , Vickie, and Melissa Myers. He also mentioned Samantha, his supervisor at work. These people go above and beyond to be there for Elijah. Elijah feels comfortable enough to reach out to these people whenever he needs advice or needs someone to talk to. Melissa, Elijah’s SSA, mentioned that he calls her once or twice a week just to chat. The Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities also ensures that Elijah’s family members remain in the loop; they always know what’s going on and get to talk to Elijah often. Elijah is also appreciative of the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities because it is through the services he receives, that he is able to have a job and has been able to make many new friends while at his job site.


What are the most important things you would want to tell people about Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities and your experiences with everyone?

The most important thing that Elijah wants people to know about the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities and its staff members is that they care and they listen. Even though Elijah gets services, he still has a voice. For example, Elijah mentioned that he wanted more time to be alone in his neighborhood, so the team worked together to make this a possibility for Elijah. He wanted his plan changed from 2 to 3 hours to be alone. Through conversations and teamwork Elijah’s plan now reflects this.


Elijah is truly happy because he is still living the life that he wants to live. He lives his life how he wants to live it with the help that he needs. Elijah wanted nothing more than to share his story and explain just how much the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities and its services have changed his life.


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