The brain is an incredibly powerful tool. Some people spend their lives devoted to decoding how we think and the way our brain responds to certain environments and stimuli. Everything we do, from getting ready in the morning to solving problems in the office, engages complex functions of the mind. This allows us to perform unique actions or usual routines in response to the changing world around us. However, there are millions of people across the world who suffer from types of neurological impairment. From Asperger disorder to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, the world is full of remarkable people who live with a challenging mental condition and still prosper. To understand the courage and strength of people who are successful despite these circumstances, we must first examine the full effects of each condition.
Asperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) characterized by difficulties in social interaction along with repetitive, restricted patterns of behavior and interests. Unlike other ASDs, people with Asperger syndrome still retain linguistic and cognitive skills. There is no clear cause of Asperger syndrome but many studies show that it is simply a matter of genetics. In the case of 20 year-old Zeb, Asperger’s led him to feel left-out and, though he had no problems making friends at school, he realized it would only become more difficult to meet new people after he graduated from high school. Zeb enrolled in Methodist Mission Home’s Southwest Center for Higher Independence, a transitional education program dedicated to helping young adults with disabilities acquire vocational and life skills to live independently. At SCHI, he was able to expand on his cognitive and linguistic skills through a variety of classes and hands-on activities including money management, resume and interviewing skills, and socialization workshop.
Kathy, a current student at SCHI, lives with mental impairment occurring from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). FAS occurs when a woman consumes a high volume of alcohol when pregnant, which can cause damage to the baby’s central nervous system and cause a variety of functional and cognitive disabilities. During high school Kathy was often a victim of ridicule from her peers, causing her to withdraw and become rebellious. After graduation, she was referred to SCHI by her Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) counselor. Although she had never enjoyed or benefited from her high school courses, at SCHI she began to embrace the challenge of learning. As result of the program, Kathy has broken out from her shyness and gained confidence across all aspects of her life saying that SCHI “gets you ready for the real world.”
SCHI provides young adults with disabilities a variety of life skills and vocational training opportunities, including a basic culinary education course in preparation for employment in a commercial kitchen. The average length of stay is 18 months and SCHI offer a residential dormitory for those students who wish to live on campus. Commuter options for San Antonio residents are also available. The 25-acre SCHI campus facilities also include a swimming pool, computer labs, gym, cafeteria, and social activity center. You can download an application through the CHI page.