Although his life has been filled with challenges from day one, MJ was diagnosed at birth with a partial chromosome 15 deletion, Cerebral Palsy and a developmental delay. His single working mother was able to overcome all kinds of obstacles to get the supports that MJ needed to get him where he is today. With no family in the area to help them, MJ’s mother had to figure things out for herself. She searched for someone to help her with MJ’s care and, eventually, was able to enroll him in Milwaukee County’s Children’s Long-Term Support (CLTS) Waiver Program in 2004. Among other types of assistance, MJ’s mother received respite care through the program. She was finally able to run errands with peace of mind knowing that someone she knew and trusted was watching MJ while she was gone.
During the summers when MJ was out of school, the CLTS waiver covered the costs of sending him to Easter Seals of Southeastern Wisconsin’s summer camp. Transportation was provided for MJ to go to the camp, located in South Milwaukee, and back to his home in Milwaukee. MJ and his mother also received recreational passes to the Milwaukee County Zoo, the Milwaukee Public Museum, Discovery World and the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, so he could explore his community and the world around him. Because MJ has a muscular condition that affects his fine and gross motor skills, he is unable to ride a twowheeled bike like most teenagers. So, the CLTS waiver provided him with an adaptive three-wheeled bike made specifically for him. With the help of his service coordinator from St. Francis Children’s Center and Emery’s Cycling, Triathlon & Fitness, he is now able to practice increasing his independence, improve his quality of life, have greater access to his environment, meet his rehabilitation goals and better participate in family activities.
And where IS MJ today? Now 18, MJ graduated high school in May from Milwaukee School of Languages. After a successful transition to adult services, MJ will continue to receive special education from Milwaukee School of Languages until he turns 21, along with additional help for him and his mother through IRIS adult services. Congratulations, MJ! We wish you the best of luck!
Written by Lily Costello, published in 2018