April 14, 2022

Karyn Lazareck: Never Doubt A Mother

Karyn Lazareck: Never Doubt A Mother

Those were the words Karyn Lazareck said to the medical profession when they had doubts about her intuition of her son Jordan’s autism. On this episode of Humans, on Rights, Karyn talks about how she and her husband Mel raised three amazing boys who are now all men. And how one of the boys, Jordan led her to mobilize a community to create a place where anyone with a disability could find a safe and respectful place in that community. By using her leadership skills and love of her autistic son Jordan, Karyn created GROW (Gaining Resources Our Way).

GROW is a place where young adults with social, intellectual, and developmental disabilities can learn life skills. Karyn believes that everyone wants to be part of a community. She explains that by using person centred programming at GROW (people are like snowflakes, no two people are the same) that achievable goals, set by the individuals attending GROW can be met or exceeded.Karyn Lazareck’s community leadership has been recognized numerous times at the highest level of awards, being identified as one of Manitoba’s 150 leading community leaders or by the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba’s volunteer award.

See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


Those were the words Karyn Lazareck said to the medical profession when they had doubts about her intuition of her son Jordan’s autism. On this episode of Humans, on Rights, Karyn talks about how she and her husband Mel raised three amazing boys who are now all men. And how one of the boys, Jordan led her to mobilize a community to create a place where anyone with a disability could find a safe and respectful place in that community. By using her leadership skills and love of her autistic son Jordan, Karyn created GROW (Gaining Resources Our Way).

GROW is a place where young adults with social, intellectual, and developmental disabilities can learn life skills. Karyn believes that everyone wants to be part of a community. She explains that by using person centred programming at GROW (people are like snowflakes, no two people are the same) that achievable goals, set by the individuals attending GROW can be met or exceeded.Karyn Lazareck’s community leadership has been recognized numerous times at the highest level of awards, being identified as one of Manitoba’s 150 leading community leaders or by the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba’s volunteer award.

See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

Transcript

This podcast was recorded on the ancestral lands on Treaty One territory, the traditional territory of the Anishnawbe, Cree, Oji Cree, Dakota, and the Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis nation.

This is Humans, On Rights. A podcast advocating for the education of human rights.

Here's your host Stuart Murray.

World autism awareness day was created by the United Nations in 2007.

It falls on april 2nd every year when I was thinking about world autism awareness day, one person came to mind my guest today, Karen Lazarus Karen's experience as a parent of a child with autism has not only shaped her but the community as well.

I'll give you three quick examples.

Number one, she was honored by the Dash Foundation for her work.

Dash is short for direct action and support of community homes.

She was given the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba's award for making a difference in a community.

And third in 2020 Manitoba celebrated its 150th anniversary and part of that was to recognize 150 amazing Manitoba ins who have shaped this province through their leadership in the community.

Karin Lazarus was a recipient of all three of those and I'm thrilled and delighted to welcome her today to humans on rights.

Welcome Karen Lazarevic.

Well thank you, I'm delighted to be here.

So Karen, we're going to get into a lot of your background.

We're gonna talk about grow the importance of it.

But let's just back it up a little bit and how did you meet and I have to be clear, I know you and I know your husband Mel, you're a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful people and Mel is an amazing guy.

But I'd love to know how the two of you met.

Oh that's a terrible story.

My mother had a friend who played bridge and she played bridge with a real bridge start and everybody in this city knows who it is and she had a fix up, you know, she fixed us up on a date and he didn't want to go with me because he had a great girlfriend and I didn't want to go with him because I just didn't want to go.

You know it really.

But anyway, he took me to city center, was it?

You know, they they had a bar and a club, I think you couldn't go until you were 20.

I forget what the rules were.

It was the first time I could go into a place like that.

So in the middle of the week, because he wanted to get it over with.

He took me there and there was mel as rick a man about town batch with his good friend, Danny Crandall.

And he saw me and he called me out of the blue and I was hesitant but he invited me out two weeks in advance because he was away on business and I said yes and I was kind of reluctant to go.

But that first date it was kismet and that was the story, how soon after that did you decide to get married and start a family.

We went out for about 10 months.

He was quite a, you know, he was 9, 9.5 years older and I thought he was a man of the world and in some ways he was and then others not really.

And then he disappeared for a couple of months and in the meantime I was at university and I I was in performances, you know, Adam Sue and I had, I always had lots of things on the go and then when he showed up again out of the blue, I wasn't too impressed and within a week he proposed.

So it was a full, it was a full year, but a bit of a tumultuous year because he struggled.

He was the reluctant bride groom.

He had been a kind of in those days if you were 30 31 not married, you were considered a confirmed bachelor.

But I'm glad I said yes.

And we started our family about three years later, three years later you made a comment caring about the fact that you were at university and tell me a little bit about what were you studying at university?

Well really I really needed to get to work.

So I took the fast teacher training.

You, you know, they needed teachers in Manitoba at that time and I took it and I was placed in a school really quite prematurely because I wasn't very experienced and it was a classroom that had gone through five teachers between september and december, not a good omen.

I decided that after I, you know, mel and I got married and I, I was going to go back to school.

I always wanted to go into law and I never fulfilled that dream, but I ended up with a different kind of a career.

So I have a background in education, not, not a degree actually.

It was a two year program and didn't get back for law school, I'm afraid, I mean you've done so many other things and again, it's always interesting to kind of get a sense how, and we talked about this before we hit record on this podcast about the word pivot, you know, you're always sort of looking to see where you're at and then you're pivoting.

I just want to pick up one thing and then we're going to get into conversations around autism and being a mother and what that looks like?

But Karen, I think did you say you were involved in um, Sue?

And does that mean what did you do some any kind of performing while you were in university?

Did you take part in that one year?

They, well that was the era, it was a rock opera and max tapper was in charge and victor.

Davies was there when I look back on it, I kind of cringe, but it was a moment in time and I did have one of the leads so and I did some time at Rainbow Stage two as a math that when mel and I were dating, I was doing funny girl or hello dolly, I think it was funny girl and he had some business people in from Taiwan and he took them to Rainbow stage and they actually thought I was famous which was really very funny, I think mel rather got a kick out of it but I was just in the chorus, that's that's the proud at that point, boyfriend, soon to be husband, right?

And Jack Shapiro ran a fantastic program.

Rainbow Stage was outstanding long before the roof and all of that.

But the productions were great Lillian lewis, we had marvelous talent both locally and Canadian for sure.

Yeah and still do you know it's amazing what happens at Rainbow stage.

Were you as a young child, were you always interested in singing and performing?

Is that something that you were interested in?

You know, my mother, I was an only child for almost nine years, so as an only child there's a lot of attention being paid to you.

So there was dance lessons, piano lessons, no singing a bunch of us used to go to the Manitoba theater center for classes was I think it was Stewart baker in those days and tim Henry was around so these are, he was a well known actor in Canada And so I was interested in the arts for sure, but I didn't see myself as being a performer, but you participated, you had fun and you obviously have fun with it and I had a lot of fun and maybe it prepared me for being able to deliver a speech or you know, I think it's important to be able to speak publicly.

And I think that those experiences probably helped.

So now you're married with a wonderful man, Mel Lazarus, and you've started to raise a family, you've got three Children, I think.

And so, you know, at one point as you're going, you realize that your son, Jordan's maybe is a bit different than your other sons.

And so tell us a little bit about, you know, your instinct as a mother when you're raising Children, everybody has a personality when they're young and that's the beautiful thing of different Children.

What sort of stood out from your perspective, Karen about Jordan's, you know, it wasn't a big mystery Stuart because Adam was born and he was precocious and he, oh my God, he was talking and walking and reading or memorizing stories and he was like a year and a half old, he was a big kid and he took off and two years later, Sam was born and oh my gosh, that was the baby of, you know, that every mother wants to just observe, he was just delightful.

And five years later when I thought I was going to have a daughter, Jordan arrived but I wasn't feeling great during the pregnancy and I tell this story and I hope it doesn't come off as if I'm sort of this very strange person but maybe well but I had a dream, I had a dream, a funny, funny dream, a disturbing dream of a surprise.

And I woke up and I was disturbed about like disturbed.

And I phoned my doctor and I went to see her and I said I had this dream, is everything okay?

And she said are you, what are you talking about?

You have textbook perfect Children.

I have pictures of them on my wall.

I said, I don't know I'm worried about this pregnancy and when he was born the other two boys were born in june Jordan was born in april right away.

You could see there was something different, he was a hipaa tonic.

It really took the pediatrician awhile to say something to me but I said it to him.

I said you want to tell me what you're looking at here And he wasn't really sure.

So I started right away, you know looking for help both locally.

And then we actually went to the boston developmental clinic center and Karen just at what age is Jordan now, how old is Jordan's?

Oh he it was from the get go within 6-8 months.

I was starting to really worry because his he wasn't developing properly and he wasn't making great eye contact.

But I was you know in his face day and night not knowing what to do really and not even knowing what I was looking at, but just intuitively trying to you know, engage him.

He did have a mother that was in his face from day one poor thing, poor guy.

But as it turned out it wasn't such a bad thing.

And so you discovered something in boston they didn't know and in fact mel and I went there with jordans and he was to maybe and they said we're not sure but go home and try whatever you can think of and if it doesn't work, try something else.

Now that was really pretty much what they told me.

So I came away thinking that the whole future of this child, my child was resting on my shoulders, it was really thrown right on my shoulders.

And I remember crying on the plane and I'm not a big crier all the way home phoning my mom and saying it's all up to me looks like so I better think of something and then I did, I started to think of things what to do.

So we managed to get into the occupational therapy program at the health sciences, they were running something there a few times a week and I was looking for therapists on on top of therapists and what happened was at about 3.5 Adam who was quite the mischievous child shot a cap gun off near the baby's head and I didn't see a natural reaction.

And until that time they told me he had selective hearing.

And I had a relative, David Rudovsky, who I called.

And I said, I need to find out if this child can hear.

He said, well, there's not been an indication that he doesn't hear.

I said, I don't know.

I saw something in a split second that alarmed me.

So they did a brain stem audie aama tree, which was an anesthetic.

It was a big deal.

And they came out and they say, never doubt a mother, he was severely hearing impaired.

And so at 3.5 he got a hearing aid in his speech sort of started to develop a lot better after that.

You're trying to discover this as you go.

You know, there's no playbook here, right?

You're really as you say, this is on your shoulders and you're trying to discover this as you go.

And the last comment, I think, well, I'll just say before we turn back to your comments, Karen is never underestimate a mother.

And even mel looked at me and said, I don't know why.

I thought you weren't, maybe I don't know why.

I doubted you.

I should know better by now.

But a hearing aid certainly helped.

And Jordan's whole affect the way he looked changed dramatically with that for sure it did.

So you know, you, you can be seen professionals today, it's much different, you know, at that time and by the way there was no real firm diagnosis for another year or so because a lot of childhood disorders were diagnosed in those days, they don't diagnose them because they presented similarly at the beginning and then they veer off into different areas.

But the awareness of autism in that day in the public psyche was based on Rain man.

That was the first introduction and I remember thinking that nobody knew much about autism until Rain man and that was only a very rare form of autism.

So yes, very little was known, the word was not a common word.

Yeah, it's interesting Karen, because I was going to ask you about that issue of you know, Rain man, which is you know, very, very well known movie between Dustin Hoffman playing a character who was a savant and tom cruise, his brother.

And I think that it was interesting because the term spectrum has another sort of word that has been associated with autism and the notion that you become a savant and in this case in the movie, you know, he was able to remember cards in which cards were there, in which cards weren't and became very very impactful, but I always sort of look back at that and say that, you know, it's funny how you know sometimes it takes, you know, a movie, a play something that triggers the public awareness about an issue.

And in that case, I guess Rain Man could be one of those movies that did just exactly that.

Although there are very few Rain Man's around, but they do exist.

Of course we know it's sort of when you heard the word autism, it didn't sound like go from autism diagnosis to an institution.

Do you know?

It sort of opened up people's minds the fact that there were, you know, sort of interesting aspects to people who have autism.

And of course we know now that if you know, one autistic person, you know, one autistic person because there's, you know, like snowflakes, everybody's unique.

Yeah.

And so Karen, as you started to get a sense of, you know, Jordan's where he was developing and how he was developing.

How did you continue to transition for him for, say, as a as a baby toddler into becoming a younger person, How did that work in terms of your involvement?

Well, it became, you know, the focus of my life really.

I mean I had two other sons and I wanted to be a good mother and I I laughed because Sam my middle son ended up being a psychiatrist and I'm thinking, hmm, I think I tried my best not to let them down and that's often what a doctor dr Jack Pearl up in those days was the doctor who dealt with most kids with autism and he'd say I don't want to have you come back, he didn't say to me, but he said it to a friend of mine, I don't want you to come back with your two kids, you know, make sure you can balance it as best you can.

And I really tried to do that and I have to say that mel certainly picked up the slack, he he was you know, with hockey and this and that.

But I was busy with therapy.

I'm a big believer in therapy.

So we had occupational therapy later on we had movement therapy, we had speech therapy.

I said we have therapy for the therapy and he improved and he moved along and he was in the public school system and one day I was talking about what he doesn't do that adam and Sam could do within our jewish community and one of my friends, the late Philip shank row and I'm happy to be able to mention her on this podcast to it because she said, well aren't you going to do something about this?

And I said, what are you talking about?

I work, you know, I can't dance any faster.

And every day she phoned me and she said, well I'll help you or I'll suggest someone that could be on your committee and that is how because of Phyllis and because I knew it was the right thing to do.

I was fortunate I had extra help around me and others didn't that we started a grassroots movement within the Jewish community in 1990 and I called a meeting and actually the synagogue and social services were there and you know, we're a very highly organized community and have been known to be that way, but this was an area we had, we were not keeping up.

And so I would say the next 10 years was dealing with integration, our community and both recreational educational systems to start looking at kids with disabilities and special needs and see how they could be included.

And we had a marvelous community conference in 1992 thinking 40 people would show up and 200 people showed up at the old y on Hargrave and many of them were pretty disgruntled because it didn't matter what was unusual about their child, even hearing impairment, they didn't really have a place for them in our social structure are well organized community.

And that changed.

That changed because once people were made aware we lobbied and we really worked hard because we knew the new campus was coming.

And so we were a subcommittee of a subcommittee of planning and we drove everybody crazy.

We had a great committee, the architects knew about us, everybody knew about us and that we wanted it to be a user friendly inclusive environment and it is today.

It's marvelous.

And you're talking about the rady center.

So Karen, it's clearly your passion and working with others and you know, thank you for mentioning philipp Schenk Rose name because I I know that she was a great supporter and a great friend of yours, how did you find the wherewithal to sort of make these changes?

Because a lot of times making changes in any organization, you know, takes time or there's reasons why and sometimes it just simply comes down, people use the excuse, well there's no money and so there's always reasons not to do something you fought that tell me about that journey.

You know, I would say my biggest gift at that time was not levitate, I had no clue what it was to break into a bureaucracy and say that you're just going to take these kids and you're gonna manage.

And so we really did have a struggle and I won't go into all the details.

But let me tell you for every struggle, there were people that were very much on our side and the committee that we had formed was so strong and such strong advocates from Jack Perloff who was marvelous.

Barb.

Ivan Barb was maybe in the Barb wasn't with us, but it was a very strong group of people that knew how to lobby U.

T.

Handle was involved in those days Maxine Zimmerman, major educator, joanie chefs, a parent and very very talented person Janet Thompson also came from the school division, working with kids with special needs.

So it was a strong group, we lobbied and we got support.

We were very fortunate because people understood that they were, that we were falling short, we could do better.

And the synagogues, once we sort of brought it to their attention started to you know, be more opening, welcoming, inclusive and encouraging life like a bar mitzvah that it can happen, it can happen in a myriad of ways.

It was being done very unofficially, a little bit, the camp BB camp and the school of course at that time was really not taking kids with special needs and they did say it was a money issue that for some exorbitant amount of money they could look at it.

But once the head of that school left, fortunately to Chicago, it changed, it just changed the right, people came into play.

The new head of the school was Jack Solomon.

He'd come from the public school sector, he understood this, they didn't even have teaching assistance, you know, we were involved in them hiring one of their first ta s.

So there was a lot to be done and that's why 10 years passed before we could even look at may be planning something unique for the community, kids were going to all kinds of different programs that others were providing, we wanted to start providing something that people could come to us and know that they were going to get the very best attention and support and the jewish community center seemed a good place to begin.

And so it was.

And what happened was Jordan went away to a program in New Haven Connecticut and that was getting him ready for that program is where I understood that life skills and readiness were really important for this cohort of individuals.

And so we started to work on grow in Gimli, which was a summer life skill program.

And in those days I already was involved with doctors.

She's now dr pam Winner Issues, an occupational therapy instructor at the School of rehabilitative, what do they call it today, rehabilitation sciences.

And so her master students did modules for us and that is how the program structure began a summer program.

So when you mentioned Karen that Jordan's went to, I think you said was it new Haven?

He did.

I found a program in New Haven Connecticut that looked like it could meet his needs.

We were terrified.

I mean it was a long way away and we went for a week to see if he could manage and it was a tough week and everybody in my family was not happy with me, but I believed in him and you know, he was in that program and graduated from it and he was away from Winnipeg for seven years and we were back and forth a lot.

At first we were back and forth every couple of weeks.

But then it got to be, you know, a longer periods of time.

And while he was away, that is when I had the time to start really throwing more energy and time into doing something here beyond just the community.

Yeah.

And you you mentioned Karen grow G.

R.

O W.

Let's talk a little bit about what does that stand for?

How did you start to create that?

And I think you started it in Gimli and it's expanded but let's start off with why grow?

What does that mean?

Well, I like the idea of growth because everybody else, you know, people finish high school and then they go on to university or they go on to the community college, ideally we're lifelong learners.

I didn't see this happening for this group of individuals with special needs, so it's gaining resources our way and we have a little tree as our logo.

You may have seen it on our website and we decided to start it in Gimli, we had to beg people to come, we decided that it should be run in a very professional manner.

In other words, our staffing would be occupational therapy.

All our staff, young students would have that kind of background, the service whether it was education psychology or occupational therapy, We were looking for that kind of instructor.

The modules were developed under Pan winners direction with her masters of occupational therapy, students doing modules for the program, we had a very rigorous intake program where the people that applied for it would be looked at.

We put the groups together in a very specific manner for compatibility for strengths and weaknesses and there would be goals.

Said we run from the get go a person centered program, others talk about it, it's almost impossible to do.

But we were small enough and we had enough volunteer strength that we could do it and we do it to this day and it is one of the pillars of the program, person centered program, which means we look at the individual, we set the goal specifically for them and we measure we do evaluations to, which is unusual.

Yeah, so, Karen, you started this whole concept about trying to give accessibility to people who didn't have it.

But a lot of that was being driven through the jewish community.

You know, when you get into Gimli now you've expanded it.

You know, I just want to make sure that people know that this is something now that is.

I mean it's being supported by the jewish community, but it's it's for the broader community.

Oh, absolutely.

It was never intended to be anything but that.

But you know, you have to clean your own house out before you start inviting in all your guests.

That I've never used that analogy, but that's true.

We had some real serious hard looking at ourselves before we started to be able to offer something and I wanted whatever we offered to be unique and extraordinary.

And yes, it's absolutely a community program and we have been supported over the years.

It's true in the early days, the jewish Federation helped us with the funding, as it did the jewish Foundation.

But let me be clear that it was the United Way.

It was the Winnipeg Foundation.

It was thomas still and it was donors.

People just saying that they cared about this.

We set up a foundation actually, we set up a foundation before we had a program which is unusual.

Most people do it after.

But we did it when Jordan had a bar mitzvah, which when it was in itself a big triumph instead of gifts, we started a special needs fund and that today has grown quite a bit.

There was a few things that were done by happenstance.

I can't tell you that it was a well orchestrated plan from the get go.

But it fell into place, opportunities were there, we tried to seize them.

And so we do have a special needs funded the jewish Foundation of Manitoba, many people contribute to it and we are able to use that money to have extras that, you know, you can the government can do what it can do.

But if you don't fundraise, if you don't have volunteers and supporters, you know, we couldn't do some, we couldn't do much of what we do.

And the fact that Jordan had a Bar mitzvah, that must have been quite an incredible, I mean it's a proud moment anyway, but you know, understanding sort of his journey and where he's been, that must have been really spectacular.

Well I went to the synagogue and again, again, I have to say that Phyllis factored and she offered her daughter Michelle as a tutor and Michelle did a great job and Jordan's, I went to the synagogue and they said of course you can do this.

And I said, I want a small bar mitzvah and I said, you know, but I think it's important and we're going to establish a fund for people with special needs.

Over 600 people showed up.

And they were and he said, Karen, I thought you said it was small people just came, it was a triumph for Jordan's as it is, you know, it is a rite of passage, you have to prepare for to get out in front of people, you have to, you know interact and you have to know when it's time to do what you have to do in time when you don't.

And he did it all wonderfully well.

And it was also, I think it served as an inspiration to some of the young parents there.

Yeah, you know, why not, you can do this.

It was a glorious moment in our family's history for sure.

You know, the fact that you have been so instrumental and so visionary to create, grow, starting in Gimli, that in Winnipeg it is expanded tremendously under your vision and leadership, but you've brought so many people together.

What are some of the things that are happening today at grow, Karen?

Well, first of all, I want to mention that this year, 2022 arguably program will be 20 years old, which is hard to believe.

And we're going to have a celebration in the fall and bring back anybody that worked with us and participated in the program and we're going to do something.

We're doing it in Winnipeg.

I think the newest endeavor is called gain at grow and it's going to be a weekend to pilot project which we're launching very very soon.

It's for young adults or adults that are already at university or in the workplace, but need some of the skills that we Have to offer.

And so it's going to be focusing on finances, social skills and home maintenance and it will be on the weekends.

And I think there's 12 sessions and we've got some occupational therapists lined up for its understanding, she goes direction.

She's outstanding.

She's our executive director.

So we're excited about the pilot project because we've been talking about teaching what we know the best.

It is basically a teaching program when you come to us, you are going to be learning new things and implementing them within the community.

And so the other thing we're doing is having a fundraiser for the first time in three years and we do a goals for grow one day hockey tournament at the ice flex, which is so much fun and a big success.

And what we garnered from that is an ability to plug, you know, help with our budgeting for the next two years.

We used to only fundraise every two years, but because of Covid, we're a little bit behind having said that because of government funding.

And again, volunteerism and Sandy's, you know, expertise.

We we've come through this in fact, when everything was closed down and I have to say that these day programs and arms is different from others because it's a teaching program and we offer narrow vocational arm, we have a, an outreach.

We actually run a social program every second saturday With up 28-30 people involved.

So there's many different arms of grow now.

But we managed to zoom or offer support through the entire pandemic zooming 20 today with programming Bingo where things were delivered.

I mean, it was fun.

Everybody got to see each other on the screen.

I was so proud of Sandy and her team, we tried to keep as many staff on as we could.

Some couldn't and there was serb of course, you know, and those with young Children, it was pretty difficult, but for the most part we did our best and I have to say something about growing general that I think is really worth mentioning.

There is a culture there because of the person centered approach that even when somebody is with us and they've moved on.

They come back as volunteers.

We have a one man who's in the school system now, he comes back and runs book club.

We have somebody that worked for us for a short period of time, has a big job in the community.

I'm not going to mention who she is and she's on our governance committee and is helping us with our fundraiser.

We have the whole community at large is really supportive of us.

We could not deliver the kind of programming and the person centeredness of it with the kind of attention and time it requires without people all around us helping and the personal goals of each individual participant is always paramount in our minds when we work with them and because of the size and because of the training and because of who we, who we have working for us, we have experiential learning.

In other words, somebody learns as it's happening in real time.

That's hard to do.

And so we've been very fortunate.

There's been so many who have been part of the success of this program.

And my goal of course, is to continue to expand and grow our services because when families come in, we always considered ourselves a transitional program between us to moving them into their own apartments or wherever they were going to live more independently to helping with vocation.

There's many others that are doing a great job with vocation.

We were we were kind of forced into it because people don't really want to transition.

So we don't call ourselves transitional anymore.

And so Karen, one of the things you mentioned is that your person centered, how do you make that decision?

How do you decide when you're that person centered that, how do you do that when you look at the criteria that you're going to work with that individual on?

You know, first of all, it was long before this term was being, you know, used it was part of the way that the school of occupational therapy looked at individuals what you need to succeed and function best.

And we just decided this is how we wanted to operate this entire program, but it's not easy.

So our staff is trained, they know if their occupational therapists are very comfortable with this philosophy goals are set by each family, they're set for Gimli and they're set for Winnipeg, where are you, where do you want to be?

What's important to you?

And those goals are the participants goal number one, their families have input of course, and we really try and move them on their pathway.

One young lady wanted to work in a daycare and she's now working in a daycare and she's still, you know, still with grow she's been very busy lately because there's been so many people off with Covid.

She's been called on all the time.

Sometimes you want to achieve an academic goal will help you with that too.

There's support for what you want to do.

You know, Jordan's wanted independence and boy, has he independent?

So if it meant he had to pick up more skills are being reminded of what those skills needed honing.

That's what he gets.

And you know, what's really beautiful?

Is there such a fabulous sense of community?

Everybody wants to belong to a community.

We want growth participants to belong to the community in general.

But there's also a community within the community that's friends.

This is very important and they're fantastic people, both our participants, their families and of course I can't say enough about our staff and then our board of directors who in some cases our parents but their parents with a degree in psychology or business.

We had wonderful people on our boards of wonderful volunteers and it's a working board.

People do take on jobs.

So there you've done an amazing amount.

Karen around autism.

I mean, you're a mother of a child with autism.

You go through all of the changes and the adjustments that you've done.

It's really quite a tribute.

And you know, the fact that I was open this podcast with three amazing awards that have recognized you and I know you it's you always say it's not about me, it's about the community, but it really is about you.

and you know what you've been able to share with us today on this podcast is always a sense of hope because I think when parents raise Children they just want the very best for them.

And as you said, I think your term was there all Children are like snowflakes there individuals, they're different, they're very unique.

And the fact that you have been able to raise three wonderful young boys and I know that you now have grandchildren, I would like you to just share with those that are listening.

What would you like people to think about on world autism awareness day, which is April 2nd, what sorts of things would you say?

I just want to ask people to think about this.

Well that there is a place for people with autism within the community, they have lots to contribute, they belong.

And that one should not give up.

Hope.

Hope is really important.

And I remember Jack Perloff saying to me during a very difficult period for Jordan when he actually lost all his hearing and had to have a cochlear implant.

He said, when you give up hope, you've given up and hope should spring eternal because there's lots to be hopeful about our community in particular.

I have to say Manitoba if you're going to have something, some need, this is pretty a pretty good place to have it.

I think that you don't have to look very far to see people that care that will be supportive with their time and their money in some cases, but often with their time and their expertise and that one should always look ahead because I do believe that the future is bright and good.

And if you look at just grow, we will continue to grow.

And I hope we have more and more to offer more and more individuals.

That's a great way to end our conversation.

Karen, I want to just say one more time how delightful it is to have an opportunity to have you on humans on rights to talk about issues around autism in a very personal way.

I mean, being the mother of a child, that is something that you shared beautifully.

I would just like maybe to close this conversation to say to you, tell me what is Jordan's, how old is he?

And what is he doing today?

Jordan's on April the second will be 41 years old and he's my baby, which is shocking to me really.

He works in the morning at the radi and he knows everybody at the radio and he can't go anywhere in the city that people don't say no, him.

We have no idea.

I think he has sort of, you know, the secret life of walter mitty, Jordan has a life very separate from us.

You know, we're always surprised to who he knows where he goes, what he sees and and how people respond to him and you know, he's very well liked because he's a he's a great guy, he's kind and he's thoughtful, he just got over Covid, so he had a weekend of being removed from everything and he found that difficult.

He'll be at the growth program this afternoon, he works out with a trainer, there might be book club today.

I don't know what the schedule is.

You know, the growth participants are in the Manitoba marathon.

They have, as I mentioned, the book club, they have golf lessons in the summer.

There is all kinds of enrichment Jordan is part of all of that.

And on april the 11th he's hosting a birthday party at the V.

I.

P.

Theater on McGill very, he loves movies and so in honor of his birthday he's invited everybody to the V.

I.

P.

Theater to celebrate his 41st birthday.

But we're pretending it's his 40th.

He's a very busy person.

Don't let anybody ever tell you that people with autism want to be alone.

They do not what a great way to share.

You know where Jordan is at.

He is obviously an amazing, amazing young man.

It's one of the three incredible sons that you raised and I give you tremendous credit for what Jordan has done.

But I also think that one of the things that it takes is it takes strong parents, committed parents and I don't know if I'm out of bounds by calling both you and mel benches but I think you are deserving of that title and Karen, I can't thank you enough for spending some time with me in conversation on humans on rights.

Thank you so very much.

Thanks for having me Stuart best to you and Ashley.

Humans on Rights is recorded and hosted by Stuart Murray.

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Thanks also to trick seem a bit you in music by Doug Edmond for more.

Go to human rights hub dot C A produced and distributed by the sound off Media company.

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