Full of laughter and happiness Latisha Darby 26, is more than just her disability and she credits the Scioto County Developmental Disabilities for that.
Darby who has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy discussed her struggles and her accomplishments. Adrianna Conley, Service and Support Administrator (SSA) for Scioto County Developmental Disabilities, Theresa Rowland, Community Opportunities Navigator for the Developmental Disability Board and on the phone, Wendy Darby, Latisha’s aunt all shared Darby’s story.
“We received official guardianship of Latisha in July 2018.” Wendy said. She said that something happened in the home that she was in, which made it not safe for her anymore. “When we obtained guardianship, Latisha wasn’t even able to walk from the couch to the dining room table. She couldn’t get in and out of the bathtub, we had to do a lot of things for her. We enrolled her in physical therapy, and she was able to strengthen her muscles and do things for herself.”
Darby continued, “We also enrolled her through Developmental Disabilities into STAR workshop. She is now able to make her own meals when she is not at STAR. Although, she likes to leave the stove on. She makes her own bed and cleans her own room and folds laundry. She can count money. She has been able to work a few places through STAR and she got a call that she is No. 7 on the waiting list to be able to move in her own apartment. She has really come a long day since we retained guardianship of her.”
Darby brought up that even though it’s only been two years that she has grown leaps and bounds in what she can do since she started. She said that sometimes they must remind her that she can’t lay in bed all day.
“She’s determined, she’s a determined little booger, she wants to do it herself,” Wendy said. “Her home life has changed significantly, which has given her the ability to do more things. Before her coming to our home, she was limited because of her home environment, things were not set up for her to utilize what she was capable of. It wasn’t very good and that’s one of the reasons she came to live with us. She needed somebody to give her a chance and she took that chance and she’s moved forward with it. That’s all she needed was for somebody to give her the opportunity to do that.”
The Darby’s have a 16-year-old at home and two other grown children. Her aunt said that it would not be difficult for them when Latisha moves out, but they will miss her. She also said that they leave her alone now, so she gets used to it. They’ve been slowly increasing the amount of time they have been away, so she is ready.
Darby said that with Conley’s help and everything, she feels that Latisha will do fine. Rowland says that they are looking for Latisha employment, besides the work through STAR and that Latisha is very much independent.
“We have OOD (Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities) she works with them and just like Daniel Miller, who has a job, they are working with Latisha to get her a job. She works with Vocation Station. Vocation Station is a vendor who works with individuals who have developmental disabilities in assisting them to find integrated community employment and they are actually a part of STAR.” Rowland said since Latisha grew up in Kentucky that they do not have all that the Scioto County Developmental Disabilities have here.
Rowland continued, “She has a job developer who will work with her in order to find a position in the community that she is interested in, much like any of us go out and seek jobs that we would like to do. Once they establish that and find a position, she’ll interview and that business pays. They will have a job coach that will go and check up on her, they’ll assist with transportation and then after 90 days of her working successfully, OOD will close their case and they will back out of assistance and then the SSA department and Conley will take over assuring that those items that Latisha needs, are in place in order for her to remain successful in her community employment.”
Conley stated she will be Latisha’s caseworker, “As long as she needs me, until she doesn’t need me.”
Latisha said, “I’ll let you know if I don’t like something or I’m uncomfortable with it, ‘like hey I like this, I want to continue this.’ I’m not afraid to share my opinion.” This of course, made the group that was gathered there laugh. I love to be around people, I’m wanting to maybe work in a nursing home to help them fold their laundry, things like that. Just anywhere I can be around people.”
Darby said, “Part of the program that I think has helped Latisha, is being able to voice her opinion and tell you if she’s not happy with something is the Self Advocacy program she is going to with STAR. That has been night and day difference for her. She is able to voice her opinion and do it logically and that way she is able to tell you why she is not happy with something. I think that is why the program is amazing. They have been phenomenal for her. They answer all our questions and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
“Before I came to my aunt’s I would let people walk all over me. Now I’m just ‘hey, this ain’t right.’ When I first came to my aunt’s, I was exhausted because I wasn’t used to doing so much. We were just always on the go,” Latisha said.
She talked about the first time she went muddin’ that she got a mouth full of cow manure while riding in a side by side, because she had her mouth open, because she was having so much fun. She also said that when she went to the beach for the first time, she got a mouth full of ocean water. She said that she has learned to keep her mouth open less.
Latisha made it known that she is glad Wendy helps her with her money and they use a spreadsheet, and she will pay her bills before she spends her money for fun things. She was quick to add that she saved up her spending money so that they could go to the beach.
Latisha uses a walker a lot of the time and when she first went to live with her aunt, she couldn’t stand longer than 10 or 15 minutes, but now she can stand for two to three hours. She may lean on the walker from time to time. She has even mastered putting on her snow boots.
Latisha added, “I am in the process of looking for a job and I am very excited.” She didn’t have a bad childhood; she just didn’t have the tools needed to have been much further along. She added that is she was able to do what she has done already; she is sure there are other people in this area that are able to do it.
When asked how she felt about her life, she said, “I’m excited for the next chapter in my life I’m excited for a job I’m just overly excited and just very happy and that’s a great and wonderful thing to be.”
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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