Meet Taylor Mathewson, 21 year old player from our Parker, CO program. Even though she doesn’t have autism, Taylor was diagnosed with agenesis of the corpus callosum. “Her right side and left side of the brain don’t communicate,” her mother Wendy explained. “It’s a congenital brain abnormality so learning new skills is really hard.”
Wendy went on to explain that normally people take the freeway but Taylor has to go the back roads to learn as she laughed. “Just like autism, it’s a spectrum, Taylor is fully functional but some can be wheelchair bound.”
Taylor’s condition wasn’t detected until she was 4 years old. “We thought she was delayed but we eventually got an MRI and figured it out,” the mother told us. Wendy loves to play tennis and enjoys hitting with her daughter. “We’ll go during the summer and hit together, it’s really fun for me, she is the best net player, she loves volleys.” She is thrilled to have Taylor participate in sports and she herself loves being part of a team and what it means to participate in it.
Both parents have been thrilled to see Taylor gain awareness of her body, where she is in space or in relation to the ball. “It takes her a while to learn new skills but her confidence level has grown and the connection with Craig has been so sweet to watch,” she said smiling. “She’s grown really attached to Craig and it makes her feel good when he asks her to demonstrate.”
As Taylor reaches working age, they’re heading to that next phase. “It’s scary, we’re not sure what that looks like and with COVID it’s been hard,” she admits. “We don’t think we are where we want to be because of the shutdown,” she continues.
Taylor currently goes to public school in the bridge program. This program helps transition between High School and work. “Students have a job coach, they learn work skills, resume building, how to do interviews, cooking, and other life skills,” Wendy explains.
As we talked about this next phase for their family, Wendy explained that opportunities and challenges in the workplace start with the manager. “It’s about finding the right manager who sees the abilities and creates an environment that uses their ability,” she shares. “It’s about finding the right people that can think outside the box and focus on the ability, not the disability.”
She goes on to say that the more people see Taylor and interact with her, the more they see her abilities. “It’s important for her to be in the community so people can see that.”
Lastly, as the discussion turned toward what options are available to them to prepare Taylor and them for the workplace, Wendy talked about using ARC. “I’ve been talking to parents that are 2 or 3 years ahead, that’s been my biggest advocate,” Wendy laughed.
But even with resources like ARC, the Community Resource Board and other parents, it doesn’t make it that less scary for parents. “You’re just scared because you don’t know what’s going to happen, so the more informed you get, the less scary it gets.”
Thank you to Wendy and her family for being vulnerable and sharing your experience, hopes and dreams with us.