Yolanda & Shaequan

“I’m learning how to persevere and I feel really proud about living on my own.”


Becoming an Independent Family

Not long ago, Yolanda was completely dependent on her mother. “My mom used to make all the decisions for me and my son,” says Yolanda, who has a developmental disability. “It was frustrating because I wanted to be able to live on my own, to have my own money and make my own decisions,” she says. “But as a parent, I also wanted to make sure that I was doing the right things for my son.”

This was especially challenging for Yolanda because her son is on the autism spectrum. With the help of Leake & Watts Community Services, Yolanda became confident that her dream of independence would come true.

She learned to cook and clean, manage her money and care for her son. She moved out of her mother’s house and is now living in her own apartment with the support of a Leake & Watts staff member who visits her daily. Yolanda is also learning job skills working at Leake & Watts’ pre-vocational cafe.

Not long ago, Shaequan spoke only a few words and stuck close to his mom all the time. Now he has friends, plays superhero games and delights in introducing himself to other children.

Also exciting is the progress her son has made. Shaequan is enrolled in the Recreation Program for children with developmental disabilities and also receives help at home. Not long ago, he spoke only one or two words and stuck close to his mom all the time. Now, he explores, plays superhero games with other children, and delights in introducing himself to children new to the program and showing them around.

“He wants to go to the program all the time because he has so much fun with all the other kids,” Yolanda says. “Then we like to spend time together when we come home. I get to teach him different things now, and he likes to be funny and make me smile. I can tell that he’s happy.”

Today, Yolanda knows that the two of them have come a long way. “We’ve had some adventures and I have learned to deal with a lot,” she says. “I’m learning how to persevere and I feel really proud about living on my own. Leake & Watts has really helped both of us learn a lot and that has made a big difference in our lives,” she says with a big smile.

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