A Life of His Own

Ben runs his own document shredding business and appreciates the help of his job coach, Bill.

Mosaic makes a difference for people—both the people we serve and the ones who love them. This story about Karen Bashkow and her son Ben shows one way that happens.

Ben was Karen’s first-born. By age 2, she knew something was different. Her friends’ children the same age were almost having conversations. But Ben wasn’t speaking.

At age 3, he was diagnosed with autism. “God would help us through,” Karen said.

It wasn’t easy. To meet Ben’s needs, they moved from their dream home (an acreage with fruit trees) to another state, where a public school program was designed specifically for children with autism, which Ben started at age 5.

“He went in there as a little Tasmanian devil,” Karen said. “He wouldn’t sit still. It was unbelievable. He even broke springs on a rocking horse! He also had the sweetest smile in the whole, wide world and was very loving, which wasn’t typical for children with autism.”

Another side of Ben was also evident. Frustration at not being able to communicate his thoughts and feelings could bring aggressive behavior—pulling hair and slapping.

As Ben grew bigger and stronger in his 20s, his outbursts, often directed at Karen, became more frequent—sometimes daily. Even though he was always remorseful afterward, it was an everpresent concern, especially if no other family members were home.

“It was an internal thing,” Karen said. “He had no control over keeping things at bay; I know he never wanted to hurt me.”

But things were drastic and she contacted the state for help.

Although Ben qualified as an emergency placement and had funding, Karen went around and around with various organizations, waiting, waiting, waiting. Then, a friend suggested she contact Mosaic. The friend is active in Mosaic’s Rejoicing Spirits ministry, which partners with churches to provide inclusive worship. Taking the advice, Karen called Mosaic.

That’s when change started happening.

Mosaic had an opening in a group home, and the local executive director suggested Ben come for dinner to meet the men who lived there. Karen was not a fan of group homes. But she took Ben.

To her surprise, he sat right down and ate with them. Shortly thereafter, he did it again, and then tried other activities with the men.

Karen’s attitude changed.

“This may be a good place for Ben,” she realized.

It was. And, a year later, it still is.

Now, Ben is doing many new things that Karen hadn’t imagined for him. He has not had one angry outburst in his new home and, when with his family on weekends, he’s had only one.

“I really do believe that as much as he loved us, he wanted a life of his own,” she said. But he couldn’t express it.

“This is his thing,” Karen said. “I feel like it separates him a little bit. It has made him stand on his own two feet more. I see that confidence in him. That’s really cool. He is really free.”

Even though it was 18 months from the time Karen sought help from the state before Ben moved into Mosaic, Karen sees God’s hand at work. “It was all in God’s time,” she said. “We were meant to go to Mosaic and wait for this spot in this house.”

To learn more about our Rejoicing Spirits ministry, visit www.rejoicingspirits.org

Comments

We are so proud of Ben and the progress he has made thanks to his family's bravery, friends at Rejoicing Spirits, and the dedicated and loving DSP's at his Mosaic home. What a wonderful story, thank you for helping his family to share it.

The blog about Ben brought tears to our eyes as we read. We know Karen and Ben and her family (and Bill Black pictured with Ben too!) and some of their story. We have seen Ben work diligently at his church to put cans on the shelf in our food pantry for the poor. We know the steadfast love of his family and how this has been a life changer. We hear the wisdom of his mother and the deep gratitude for Ben finding a new chapter of his life and in himself. What a blessing Mosaic is...

Thanks for your note, Melody. A supportive family makes such a difference for people. Ben is blessed.

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