NAVIGATION

It's All in the Approach

Kevin is a thoughtful, soft-spoken young man with a halo of red hair and the unlined face of someone who is at peace with the world. At 30, he works for a major health insurance company, shares an apartment where he has lived since he graduated, and is engaged to be married.

He is the first to say he is far away from the condition he was in when he first came to the May Center at age 18.

"My time there was some of the best years of my life," he beams. "I made friends, I saw what I could accomplish, and the staff taught me how to help myself. It was all in the approach. They treated me with dignity and respect. They helped me succeed in school. I got my diploma. They treated me the same way 24/7. And I learned a lot about brain injury.

"When I was six years old, I was riding with friends and I was in a bicycle accident. I landed on my head. My ears were ringing, and my vision was blurry, but I never lost consciousness. The emergency room doctors and x-rays didn't find and serious injuries. I seemed to recover, so no one thought anything of it then, but soon after I began to have difficulty. I went to different schools and programs and we were not able to find one that worked for me," he explains.

"When I was younger, my teachers and clinicians thought I just needed more discipline to succeed, but that wasn't the answer. I didn't like to be told what to do. I would get frustrated and not follow directions. I would get very angry and assaultive and have outbursts. I was often confined, my privileges were taken away, and I was 'consequenced'."

He was moved around to different schools, both public and private, largely because of behavior issues. Most were quite restrictive, but it wasn't until he was around 16 that he was tested to see if he had any brain injuries.

"Once we knew, it made a big difference in the kind of program I entered. I earned the respect of staff and students. They trusted me and I trusted myself. I earned privileges and I saw that I could succeed," he said. "Staff worked with me while I was still in high school and they helped me to find the job I have now and I began doing data entry and date stamping."

Kevin's typical schedule includes working Monday through Friday, and in his free time going to the movies, restaurants, the beach or shopping with his fiancée, and maybe some cooking.

"I learned to make a Nigerian recipe for chicken and vegetables from a friend," he smiles. He goes home weekly to see his mother and do his laundry. He frequently visits his father in New Hampshire where they work around the house and go boating and fishing.

"It's all in the approach," he says again. "I have the utmost gratitude for the people at the May Center. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be where I am right now."

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