Long-Term Support Helps Brian Thrive
As much as Brian Brooks’ mother wanted to, she was unable to care for his significant needs and meet his care requirements. Although he was first placed in an institution for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Brian’s mother later moved him to Mosaic, because she knew he would be loved more and cared for, and his needs would be personally addressed in a smaller, group home residence staffed with round-the-clock direct support professionals.
That was more than three decades ago.
Now 61 years old, Brian had a history of shying away from crowds, and loud noise caused him distress. He also didn’t trust many people, so his days consisted of staying inside and not wanting to do many activities—if any at all.
“When I started at Mosaic more than 13 years ago, Brian was already here,” said direct support professional Ruby Mills. “He is non-verbal. But when I met him, I was pleased he could see and understand me when I talked. However, at that time, if you asked him to do something—such as to go outside with you or to put away his items where they belonged—he wouldn’t do it or was very hesitant to do so.”
That being the case, a major goal for Brian has been to help him feel comfortable going places and alleviate his distress being with crowds or hearing loud noises. His support staff has been working with him toward this goal, little by little.
Brian may not speak, but he certainly communicates. “Recently, when I entered his house, he immediately got up and came over to me,” said Ruby. “I said, ‘Brian, what do you need?’ He then went to the front door while still looking at me. He was telling me he wanted to go out. I told him to let me put my things down, and today we will go out. He has become very good at showing you what he wants or needs.”
“Now Brian likes going everywhere in town,” she laughed. His favorite activities are visiting the nearby park and eating at restaurants—especially Applebee’s and Olive Garden.”
Another person on Brian’s support staff, Tyiesha (“Ty”) Dunson, also helped him to overcome his fear of crowds and loud noises. When taking Brian to his medical appointments, she would make other stops along the way to expose him to different surroundings. “I also took him to a Philadelphia Eagles game. Of course, a pro football game is by nature extremely loud with everyone in the stadium shouting and cheering, but surprisingly, it didn’t bother him. He was smiling the whole time, eating great food, and when the Eagles scored a touchdown, I took his hands to put them up to the sky while saying ‘yay!’ He really enjoyed himself.
As a next step and with the money Brian saves to pay for necessary personal needs and participate in activities, Ty drove him to Baltimore to celebrate his birthday. Ruby said, “He was so happy he was going there, he gave me a big hug before he got into the car!”
Because Brian clearly showed happiness during these excursions, an even more adventurous out-of-town trip was planned—this time, to Florida—based on his love of Disney characters and Dr. Seuss books.The trip mandated an almost three-hour, direct flight to Orlando, and it was Brian’s first time on a plane. “He did awesome during the ride by looking out the window and eating his snacks.”
In Orlando they stayed at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, which Disney describes as “stepping into the heart of Africa.”
According to Ty, their room had a view of one of the hotel’s savannas where 200 animals live—from gazelles and flamingos to giraffes and zebras. “When we first checked in, Brian went straight to the balcony to watch the wildlife. He was fully engulfed in the experience, and I could tell he really liked it. He went to our balcony many times. It was so peaceful to him,” she said.
Also while in Florida, Ty took Brian to Universal Studios, where he posed for photos with Dr. Seuss characters, watched a live Grinch Christmas show, enjoyed the food and bought a Christmas Grinch plush toy, among other things. Another highlight of the trip was their visit to Medieval Times, where Brian was well entertained by the main tournament of pretend knights on real horses “battling for the throne,” and he loved the chicken that was part of what they called the “four-course feast.”
Because Mosaic gives him a safe, trustworthy place to live and the encouragement to try new things and go new places, Brian continues to comfortably widen the scope of his experiences.
“For Brian and others Mosaic serves,” said Ty, “we feel strongly they should be out enjoying all life has to offer—just like the rest of us get to do.”