Launch + Skills offers individualized transition planning plus skill development for autistic or neurodiverse individuals interested in continuing their education, getting or maintaining a job and/or preparing to live independently. This month the Launch + Skills program is pleased to celebrate Constantin!

Constantin joined the Launch + Skills program on June 3rd, 2021 and he has made significant strides in his goals related to education, emotional control, anxiety management and employment. Constantin enrolled at Bishop Carol high school in 2019 and within two years he has graduated with a high school diploma. Constantin has displayed great resilience and dedication by successfully completing his high school journey.  He has also taken great pride to develop himself through volunteering at the Calgary Zoo to build job skills and grow social opportunities to become a more active member in the Calgary community. In addition, Constantin joined the Launch + Skills program to learn some strategies surrounding emotional control and anxiety management. Constantin utilized what he learned in the program, and it has helped him become more focused, gain more clarity, be more hopeful and self-aware so that he can de-escalate his anxiety in situations or moments that may cause him to feel nervous or worried. Constantin actively practices his anxiety management skills and has enrolled himself in transit training to begin learning how to navigate his way through Calgary independently. Constantin is on track to further his independence and self-determination by voluntarily participating in skills coaching sessions and taking it upon himself to enroll in other developmental workshops offered in the community.

Below is an interview from Constantin:

How did you end up in the Launch + Skills program, what have you tried before and what were/are your goals coming into the program?

I remember hearing the goal “Transitioning into Adulthood” by my Family Services for Children with Disabilities worker two years ago and that almost came to me as a shock. Even though I knew it would come, I have always avoided thinking about growing up as it worried me too much. With all my struggles, how could I survive in such a fast-paced and confusing world? Then with COVID, online schooling and many changes added into the mix, life almost seemed too hard for me to conquer. I had done some social skills classes but never tried out anything that would prepare me for adulthood. Even the thought of it made me almost sick. When I started the Launch + Skills program, I did not know what to expect. My goal was just to peek into what it might mean to have skills to grow up and transition into adulthood. To my surprise, the Launch + Skills program came to me as a gift to deal with my struggles. My skills coach Yonatan started out by breaking down my problems and giving them a name. So I learned about emotional regulation, self-determination, and much more. For me, things that have a name make them less scary and I started to deal with it. Then as a next step, I learned about strategies to overcome these struggles. And I realized: Practice makes perfect.

What do you like about the program?

I like that the program gives my problems a structure and then offers solutions. It is then my part to practice these so that I can have success.

How has it helped or supported you in achieving a goal(s) or milestone?

The program has helped me to try new things and find out that they are less scary than I had thought. I applied at the Calgary Zoo for a certificate program, was accepted and I work there every day in the summer and on weekends for the next 8 months. This was a major milestone for me. Also, Yonatan gave me a lot of additional information about virtual classes regarding money management, community safety, Calgary Transit classes, and much more, which makes me step by step feel more confident that I know what I am dealing with come adult life.

Where are you today and what’s next for you?

I am today at the beginning of transitioning into adulthood after I graduated in June. This graduation after grade 11 at the age of 17 came to me a bit as a surprise and I needed to get organized for next year a bit faster. I will continue my work at the zoo and will try out a Montessori online college program for early learning. To think that I would live independently and support myself independently still scares me, but through the Launch + Skills program, I have learned so far that breaking down things into small steps helps a lot! My next step is to use the upcoming year as a “Year of growth” where I learn more and more skills through virtual and hopefully in-person classes (PEERS, EmploymentWorks, and more) and try out online college.

Do you have any recommendations for others who might find themselves in a similar path or position in life?

I have always heard the saying “The secret of success is getting started”. I never knew really what it meant until I did the Launch + Skills program. When you deal with anxiety about your future and struggle in becoming independent, this program helps you get started. For me, as an individual with autism and severe apraxia of speech, it is not easy at all.  However, breaking down the steps of growing up and getting lots of tools to deal with it, is a great way to overcome your fear of growing up! There are bumps all along the way, but now I call them “learning bumps” rather than failure. We all have amazing abilities! I think when you do programs like Launch + Skills, think of yourself as a great unique person with an amazing “ME-Ability”! You will get so many tools and support that growing up will start to sound fun and something you will become excited about!

Interested to learn more? Click here for more information on the Launch + Skills program.


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