SPOTLIGHT


Read about Ability Connection New Mexico's Technology Initiative!

Technology InitiativeThe Technology Initiative of Ability Connection New Mexico(ACNM) makes assistive technology more accessible to individuals with disabilities in our community who can become more independent through its use.

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  • Oscar Walking
  • Assistive Technology
  • Therapy Services
  • Early Childhood Education

      

Our Passion


At Ability Connection, our passion is providing the very highest quality care and support to children and adults with disabilities. Our organization has been building on this passion for over 58 years while continuing our commitment to level the playing field for those with disabilities. We empower individuals to live the best life possible by removing barriers that inhibit independence and autonomy. At Ability Connection, we focus on each person’s ability and believe in each individual’s potential for success.

#Iam1in5

Dane — #Iam1in5

Born with cerebral palsy, Dane has gained a different perspective on life. Because he is often judged based on his disability; he works hard not judge other people. He is aware of the fact that there are people in the world who need help with many things and has learned to be very patient with himself and others.

With the help of Ability Connection, Dane has gained more independence and confidence; he knows he can do the things he wants to do, regardless of the challenges of being 1in5. Dane’s Ability Connection case manager has helped him have more control over his life and achieve his goals.

Once Dane graduates college, he plans to be a family counselor. His dream is to work specifically with individuals with disabilities, like himself, and their families. Dane is very involved in a student organization and serves as the student leader. Dane loves to ride horses, write stories and play sports; he is a strong swimmer. He has also once co-piloted a small plane. Dane totally believes having a good attitude dictates how you live your life and he is proud to be 1in5.

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Shelby — #Iam1in5

Shelby was born a premature baby. In the beginning there were no signs that she would be 1in5 until she was about fifteen months old. Her parents were devastated with the news of their little girl who was diagnosed with brain abnormalities and later autism. There was no indication during the pregnancy of any disabilities.

Ability Connection has helped Shelby’s parents understand the disability services and programs they were eligible to receive and have always been supportive. Shelby has only been receiving assistance for the last 5 years. Prior to that, her parents paid for all of her needs through their own insurance. Shelby’s life has helped her parents grow thicker skin. They have accepted the little things and live a simple life to ensure Shelby’s needs are met. Shelby is like every other kid and she wants to be treated that way too. Her mom wants everyone to talk directly to someone with a disability and not be afraid because you don’t know how to approach them.

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Candi — #Iam1in5

Candi became 1 in 5 at birth. She wasn’t alive when she was born and the doctors fought hard for 45 minutes to save her. She miraculously survived, but the doctors told her parents she had Cerebral Palsy and a cognitive disability. Her parents divorced when she was six and she was often left in the care of her sister who was just three years older. When her mother remarried, she was sent to a school for children with disabilities and began a life of institutions and being away from her family. In the 26 years she was housed in institutions, she saw her mother once a year and her father visited her twice. Candi felt abandoned and rejected by her family. She often asked herself ’why me’. She just wanted to be like everyone else, she wanted to walk and talk and have someone be proud of her.

Candi was often misunderstood and underestimated because of her physical disability. She couldn’t walk or talk. Intellectually, she knew everything that was going on but no one knew that besides her because she was unable to communicate. During her time at the institution a teacher saw something in Candi and encouraged her to dream. Unfortunately, the institution where she lived closed and Candi moved in with her sister. After Candi graduated High School, she moved into a Group Home in Terrell, Texas, where she lived for 10 years. At the group home she was very unhappy because she felt there was no one to believe in or encourage her. She spent all of her time on the computer, typing emails with her nose. She wanted a communication device, but the people in the group home where she lived wouldn’t approve it. Finally, a new group manager started and he and his wife took a great interest in Candi. She asked him to help get her into the Partners in Policymaking program, which is an advocacy policy group. Shortly after they attended their first weekend meeting, he and his wife invited Candi to move into their home. They became her mom and dad. She attended the policy groups for eight months and after her training, she fired the company that was her service provider for 20 years and found Ability Connection. She felt Ability Connection’s philosophy was in line with hers and provided the level of service she deserved. Ability Connection helped her get the communication device she longed for to live an independent life. Candi had dreamed of going to college for 15 years and now that was a possibility, she enrolled in 2006.

Now that Candi had such a positive outlook on life she reached out to her father. Her father apologized and was surprised by how much she had progressed and that she achieved more than he ever imaged she would. He asked Candi to forgive him for not being the father he should have been and she let him know she had already forgiven him before he asked. They had a close relationship until his passing. She had also learned to love her mother for who she was and had forgiven her.

Candi says when you have needed help all of your life, it is important to find a way to help other people. She used to think her disability made her less of a person but now she knows its part of her life plan to be in her body. If you know someone with a disability, Candi doesn’t want you to give up on them and realize they are a person and have feelings and want the same things as you do.

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Christian — #Iam1in5

Before Christian was born, his parents knew he was 1in5. Because the pregnancy was high risk, a test was performed to determine if the baby was healthy and developing well. The results revealed he had Down syndrome. The parents’ initial reaction was to pray. Their next instinct was to find out if they were having a boy or a girl. The results came back and they found out the baby was a little boy. After tossing around a few names, they agreed to name him Christian. Their unborn baby with Down syndrome was now their son Christian.

During a pregnancy ultrasound, it was discovered that one of little Christian’s heart valves only had two leaves rather than three. Knowing that their tiny baby would need to have surgery to fix the defect, the parents asked their church to add Christian to their prayer chain. Ten days later, the parents visited a cardiologist to determine the action needed to heal Christian’s valve. While comparing the original photo and looking at Christian’s heart in real time on the monitor, the cardiologist could not believe it, but the valve now had all 3 leaves. This could only be a miracle.

Christian was born 1in5 and is an amazing young boy who is so loving to anyone he meets. Because Christian is non-verbal, Ability Connection granted him a communication device so he can have his own voice. This opportunity brought Christian and his parents together with other families whose children are 1in5. Christian’s dad wants people to know that those with a disability can accomplish great things, just maybe not in an expected time frame. Christian’s parents are so grateful for all of his accomplishments and have learned to greatly appreciate the small things in life.

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Michael — #Iam1in5

Michael’s mom blamed herself for having a child with a disability at birth, asking what she could have done differently to prevent her son from being 1in5. She herself was born at high risk and beat the odds. She knew her son could do the same. She taught Michael to be very independent. He loves to share his motivation and drive to try new things with others with disabilities.

A person with a disability wants what everyone else wants and can do anything, albeit in a different way. Michael has learned to drive, loves to exercise, designs landscapes and works on trucks. When Michael graduated high school, he received a standing ovation for all of his accomplishments.

Ability Connection helped Michael’s family find resources that have given him a lot of freedom. Michael has overcome many obstacles and is a very active young man. He wants people to know not to give up on your dreams because anything is possible.

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Hayden — #Iam1in5

Hayden, a twin, was born with Down syndrome. He was a healthy, happy little boy. At one and a half years old, Hayden suffered from an RSV infection that completely changed him. Rushed by ambulance, Hayden coded and suffered two strokes. The RSV infection severely damaged his lungs, nearly suffocating him, causing life changing brain damage.

Hayden’s mother was completely taken aback by this unexpected nightmare. At Hayden’s birth, her only concern was Hayden being accepted and now she was thrown into a world of wheelchairs, braces, and feeding tubes. Ability Connection was able to step in and clear a path through the jungle of disability services by providing her guidance and support for her son’s care.

Today, thanks to Ability Connection’s assistance, Hayden is a healthy, smiley high school student who loves music. Although Hayden and his family had a traumatic journey, they can’t imagine life without him. He brings his family so much joy it’s beyond words. Hayden’s mother tells anyone she can that having a child with Down syndrome is a lifetime of joy and they are beyond lucky.

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Jason — #Iam1in5

In 8th grade, Jason was a straight A student and a very talented athlete. On August 10, 1982, his family received a tragic call that Jason had been struck on his bicycle by a hit and run driver. The panicked family rushed straight to the hospital having no idea of the condition of their young son. The first sight of him was lying on a bed shaking uncontrollably as the doctor told them he wasn’t going to make it. His devastated parents waited by his bedside, praying for a miracle. They sat vigilant for days as Jason clung to life and finally, Jason’s father received a clear message that his son would make it and shortly after that Jason was breathing on his own.

After months of feeding tubes, health issues and answered prayers; Jason was finally released from the hospital. Still in a coma, his family cared for him at home and took him to visit family and friends. Ability Connection became part of Jason’s team and gave the financial support necessary to enable Jason’s family to receive the care he needs.

Although Jason’s family has been through a long painful journey, his father can honestly say he is the luckiest guy in the world. He wants everyone to know no matter how tough it is to be 1in5, individuals with disabilities have feelings and they come first.

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Surella — #Iam1in5

Surella never expected to say “Iam1in5”. She was always very active in her El Paso community. For years she brought dinner to widows, volunteered with many organizations and was always there to lend a helping hand. Unexpectedly, Surella fainted during a physical therapy session and hit her head. She suffered an internal bleed and was taken off her heart medication. Tragically, she suffered a severe stroke the day before her checkup. Her right side was debilitated, leaving her unable to speak. The very active Surella now needed help and was in her daughter’s care.

Surella’s daughter was initially very shocked and angered at this life changing event. She saw the way people treated her mother differently by not speaking directly to her, although she completely understood what was being said. Forced to quickly learn medical terminology and search for resources, Surella’s daughter found Ability Connection. After hearing about Surella’s acquired disability and her inability to speak, Ability Connection granted Surella a communication device. The technology will ease her frustration of being unable to speak by giving her a voice. The device is equipped with software that uses photos and pictures to construct sentences based on her selections.

Surella’s daughter is very grateful she is able to spend more time with her mom as she continues to advocate for her. She wishes that people would learn to speak directly to someone who is a member of the 1in5 and treat them like everyone else instead of making assumptions about what they understand.

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Philip — #Iam1in5

Philip is very involved with his church, loves the TV show COPS, works on his computer and attends summer camps. Philip also has cerebral palsy. He wants you to know that you will be surprised by how much someone with a disability can do.

With the help of the Ability Connection team, Philip took his very first steps at a young age. Now Philip attends Ability Connection’s adult day habilitation program where he is a big help in the Technology lab. Everyday, he manages the computers and iPads as well as answering any questions he can.

Philip is independent at home with only minimal assistance from time to time. He schedules his own public transportation. He very much enjoys spending his time making jewelry, especially necklaces. Philip loves animals even more than people, especially dogs and cats. Philip was born 1in5 and is an independent, happy young man.

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