MAC’s newest Young Adult Fellow, Maximo Pimentel went to an IEP meeting for a soon-to-be 14 year-old student. During the meeting, Maximo participated at a critical moment by telling his story about how he was able to go to college even though he was a student who needed support services at school. Through the journal prompts below, which asked him to reflect on his experience of going to the students meeting, you will gain insight into why MAC’s legislative work, trainings, advocacy and our own Fellowship program are important for helping families to understand what the laws can make possible for their children.
Maximo journals about mentoring…
“Sometimes parents and teachers are not aware of our dreams. They should be because it does not matter if your child has autism or any other disability, they can still be successful if you support them.”
-Maximo Pimentel, MAC Young Adult Fellow
What was the best part of the meeting for you?
The best part of the meeting was when Caroline came in and told us she wanted to go to college. I told her about my dream of wanting going to college as well when I was in high school. I told her how it came true when I started the ICE program at Roxbury Community College and that now I am enrolled at Bunker Hill Community College. It was great seeing Caroline smile when I was telling my story because I know she could do the same things I did and even more. I relate a lot with Caroline because when I was at school I also worked hard like she is doing right now. I think if she keeps working hard she would go really far.
What experiences of yours were important to share at the meeting?
My experience of being in the ICE program was really important to share with Caroline because it makes her feel that if I could do it she could too. I really enjoyed sharing my experience with her because I can see that she is really interested in learning and she wants to be successful. I know she will be successful because she works really hard and gets her work done.
What was unexpected for you at the meeting?
When Caroline said she wanted to go to college no one expected that was what she wanted, even her mom. Sometimes it is hard for parents to know what their children’s dreams are. Children need their parents and teachers support to reach their goals because without their support it will be challenging for them to reach their goal. They need someone supporting them because all kids have dreams like being a doctor, a business person, or something else. Sometimes parents and teachers are not aware of our dreams. They should be because it does not matter if your child has Autism or any other disability, they can still be successful if you support them.
About our Fellows. The Young Adult Leaders Fellowship is a partnership between Massachusetts Advocates for Children and the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston. It provides opportunities for young adults with an intellectual disability and/or autism between the ages of 18-26 to spend a year at MAC, learning the professional skills needed to advocate on behalf of other youth with disabilities. MAC fellows work for twenty hours a week, doing office tasks as well as participating in a range of advocacy activities. They get to participate in legislative debates, take part in MAC legal trainings for parents and professionals, as well as attend IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings for MAC clients.