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Self-Directed Services Success Story: Shawn

Meet Shawn. A young, active person who has been navigating the intellectual and developmental disabilities system for several years. Shawn even lived at an Allegany Arc Individualized Residential Alternative or group home for a period of time. However, Shawn was not happy and his services were not personalized enough for him to grow, thrive and achieve his dreams.

In May 2018, Shawn enrolled in Self-Directed Services (SDS) through Allegany Arc; a service model in which people of all ages, with all types of disabilities, maintain their independence by choosing the mix of services and supports that work best for them. Self-direction is built on the belief that the individuals receiving the services and supports know their needs best and are in the best position to plan and manage their own services.

SDS allows Shawn to determine how he wishes to live and to choose the activities that make his days and life personally more fulfilling. Today, Shawn is learning to advocate for himself by choosing activities that are meaningful to him every day rather than being told where to go and what to do. He is independently making daily activity decisions and is finally able to enjoy life in the community on his terms. His happiness has increased as his ability to communicate his desires and direct how he spends his day has increased.

SDS has enabled Shawn to have a consistent staff member and develop a program tailored specifically to his personality and interests. Matt, Shawn’s Self-Directed staff, works with him four days a week. “Anyone who knows Shawn will tell you if you push him too hard, he’ll shut down,” said Matt. “Group services were difficult for Shawn, but since going Self-Directed, he has improved 90%.” “I have a short fuse. I admit that,” said Shawn. “Matt understands me and how I think. Matt is one of those people who can do anything.”

“Right now, we are working on household chores and money goals,” said Matt. “I have a daily cleaning routine now so my house will not go back to a crazy state,” added Shawn. “Matt and I also do laundry each week and grocery shop.”

Shawn’s new-found freedom and pride is written all over his face as he proudly leads small tours of his apartment during his first house-warming party. Matt, is also at the house-warming party. Matt’s face beams with pride as he watches Shawn interact with his guests and kindly reminds him to mind his manors from time-to-time. Matt states, “My greatest pride about this whole thing, is seeing Shawn’s improvement. He has come a long way in a short amount of time.”

Shawn has made significant progress within Allegany Arc’s Self-Directed Services program. “For me, it’s been a life-changing process that helped me discover a lot about myself, my needs, and my future,” said Shawn.

If you would like to learn more about Self-Directed Services, please contact Judy Peck at (585) 593-5700 x 543 or

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