The Journey to Achieving Dreams

Christopher 1 (For Use)

Christopher has deep blue eyes, honesty, humility, and tenacity for animal care that drives him to pursue a career as a Veterinary Technician. His determination is strong as he works to overcome the challenges that are inherent in his developmental disability known as Asperger's syndrome, which falls on the Autism spectrum.

Individuals like Christopher often display characteristics such as loyalty and highly specified interests. Other common presentations include social challenges or difficulty with time-management. However, with proper support, these individuals can better utilize their strengths to achieve high degrees of success. Christopher receives assistance through Volunteers of America's Supported Living Services Program and now, at age 24, he is on his way to achieving his dream of becoming a Veterinary Technician.

The relationship began in 2008 when he was a junior at Riverdale High School. At the time his Direct Support Professional, Christy Chachere, worked with him side by side. In the classroom she was there to help him understand the material and take notes. But as time progressed, Christopher took the initiative to take notes on his own—incredibly, he is a student who actually wants to take notes! To balance the work load, Christopher and Christy also do fun things together such as go to lunch or the movies.

Animal care is of course, more than just textbook analysis, so this summer, to gain practical skills Christopher volunteered at the Metairie Small Animal Hospital and felt at home in that environment. But despite the progression, the school work is extremely challenging therefore, this semester Christopher has enrolled in a time-management course, which can be especially helpful for individuals with this developmental disability. Now, Christopher is pushing forward and taking on his biggest challenge to date...mastering Microbiology!

Career preparedness is an incredibly important part of our society, and Volunteers of America is proud to be a part of Christopher's journey toward gaining competences in this highly valued field of work. With the proper support systems, such as those provided by the Supportive Living Services program, individuals can harness the power of their strengths to reach their dreams.

Christopher's previous facilitator, Latasha Marshall, said that he "opened her eyes," to her own vision and inspired her to purse her goal of attaining a Masters of Business Administration degree, of which she is now engaged!

His next business card should read: Christopher Chilton—inspiring people, helping animals.