Enduring Spirit: Navigating Disability with Love, Support, and Resilience

Community EngagementBlog

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“Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.” 

― Louis D. Brandeis

Kevin is a young man from Riverside County, California, who has faced many challenges in his life but has never let them stand in the way of his success. When Kevin was just one year old, he and his family moved to Riverside County from Orange County, where he was first diagnosed with a disability.

He began receiving ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) services at the age of one and continued to receive them through the school district and IRC (Inland Regional Center) until he was 18. Despite early difficulties with behavior and staying on task, Kevin has grown into a calm, independent person who has accomplished much more than many people thought possible, said Tara, Kevin’s mother.

Kevin enjoys spending time with his family in Temecula, California, and visits his grandparents in Menifee, California, over the holidays. He loves animals and owns two dogs, Piper and Zoe. Although he is devoted to his professional goals and cherishes his family time, his maturity did not develop overnight.

Tara recalls the early difficulties they faced with Kevin’s behavior. “When he was young, he was challenging behaviorally,” she said. “He was very violent towards myself and tutors. You know, screaming, kicking; he required one-on-one aid in school, which is very difficult to get. But he grew up to be a very calm, independent person through Regional Center and the school district, and he became mature.” She wants other parents to see what Kevin has accomplished. “Just not to lose hope. We had people basically say, ‘you don’t expect him to graduate high school, do you?’ And I am like, I certainly do.”

Now, at 22, Kevin is a self-motivated individual with a tenacity and drive that impresses those around him. Tara recalls the moments when Kevin worked hard to obtain his driver’s license. He was determined to get it and studied and took the tests independently. “I think what really helped was taking a test on paper,” Tara said. “He passed with no problem. He did it all on his own. She notes that other parents were crying when they saw Kevin. They were afraid their children would never be able to drive, and Kevin was driving alone. “He drives everywhere now.”

Tara mentions that despite these difficulties, Kevin has always been very intelligent and driven. In second grade, he knew all the presidents in order, the years they were in office, and their wives’ names, which is extremely impressive. Kevin’s intelligence and drive have helped him to achieve many of his goals, including winning a geography contest at an early age and using his memorization skills to pass the real estate test. Kevin notes that he learned all the area’s streets, floorplans, and school boundaries.

Susan Vaughn, Kevin’s Consumer Services Coordinator (CSC), since he was 16 years old, has been a constant source of support and encouragement throughout his journey. She has been impressed by Kevin’s tenacity and drive from the moment she met him. “If someone would tell him he couldn’t do it, he was basically like, ‘watch me.’ And it’s been such a pleasure to work with the family and work with Kevin. It’s just been wonderful for me to watch the growth and what Kevin’s done.”

Susan believes that Kevin’s story is an inspiration to anyone, with or without a disability, and his achievements can show people what is possible. “To come into the picture when Kevin was 16 years old, and go on this journey with him and see all the things that he has done, and the hope he’s given people, and his drive, is inspiring to anybody,” Susan said.

A significant accomplishment for Kevin has been his work in the real estate field. He was motivated to help families find the right home for them and decided to pursue a career in real estate. He studied and completed the real estate certification program, but it was challenging. He faced a setback when he failed the state test by just two points. But he didn’t lose hope; he tried again, and this time he passed without a problem. Tara notes, “the test is one of the hardest in the country to pass, and it’s amazing that Kevin was able to do it.”

Kevin worked as an assistant at a local real estate agency for about one year. After the certification, he felt he wasn’t receiving enough support or mentorship, so he decided it was time to change. He contacted Susan for assistance in finding a new placement. Susan credits Beth Crane, IRC’s Employment Specialist, as the person that made it possible for Kevin to receive his new opportunity. “If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think that Kevin would have found that realtor. She picked up the phone and made one phone call and made it happen,” Susan added.

Kevin was able to find a new realtor to work with, and he is now working at a local real estate agency in Murrieta, California, where he is receiving the help he needs to be successful. Tara notes the agency has a program to get new agents ready step by step. Kevin mentions that he expects to learn more and soon help a family find the home of their dreams.

Tara states that Susan has been an incredible support throughout Kevin’s journey. “Without her, I don’t know how we would have gotten either position.” Kevin agrees, saying, “Susan is a fierce advocate.”

At Inland Regional Center, we strive to work as a team. We are helping families identify what works best for their loved ones. Tara and Kevin found support in incredible staff members like Susan and Beth. As Tara mentioned, don’t lose hope. We are dedicated to working with you, and who knows, as in Kevin’s story, your loved one’s journey will turn the impossible into new possibilities and hope.

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Community Engagement

Inland Regional Center's Community Engagement Unit can be reached at [email protected]

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