Albin “Al” Wopat has severe autism. He is also an emerging self-advocate.  Al transitioned into self-direction from the Tangram school at age 21 in 2016 when the Wopats’ chosen agency provider was unable to admit him. Self-direction was not the first choice for Al then, but the Wopat family now believes that the choice and control that self-direction allows is enabling Al to find his “Good Life.”

Because communication is such a huge challenge for Al, his entire SD program is geared towards enabling him to communicate his wants and needs. Al’s person-centered team includes a private speech and language therapist, a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), his credentialed staff, his support broker, and his family members. With their support, Al is increasingly expressing himself. He is motivated to do so because his team members have the expertise and the time to enable Al to fulfill his expressed desires. Each morning – and throughout the day—Al is the person who chooses daily activities and the places he will go.   Most days you will find Al out in the community, enjoying new and different food for lunch before an afternoon hike!

The growing sense of personal autonomy is showing up in Al’s conduct. He demonstrates less frustration, and significantly fewer maladaptive behaviors than in the past.  If all “behavior” is really a form of communication, then Al is telling anyone who will listen that personal autonomy is a healthy and cost-effective solution for individuals who face communication challenges.