Finally – A Feeling of Belonging
Robert Virgilio has made tremendous strides on social skills since coming to The Arc’s Walpert Campus in Hayward. He came from a large high school with over 2000 students which, according to his mother Erma Virgilio, made it difficult for Robert to adapt.
“He has thrived since enrolling in the Walpert Program where it’s calmer and he receives individual attention,” she says adding, “Robert has made friends and finally has a feeling of belonging.” Since 1999 Robert has lived in his own apartment in Fremont so he takes the bus to Walpert every day. “I didn’t want him to move out of the house but he needed his independence,” his mom sighed.
Walpert Campus Director Renee Tuttle describes Robert as being much more in tune with his colleagues than when he first arrived.
Social Skills Development – “Huge Progress”
“He is much more empathetic and has stopped competing with the other clients,” she says. “In the past Robert would talk to someone and ask about their weekend, then walk away before they could answer. Other clients found that annoying and wouldn’t have much to do with him,” says Tuttle. “He has made huge progress in the social skills arena,” she adds, “now other clients look up to him and want to be like him. They even set the same IPP goals as Robert! It’s amazing.” Mom Erma, who sits on The Arc of Alameda County Board of Directors, agrees with Tuttle’s assessment commenting that Robert is more generous and more aware of other people’s needs.
Want proof of his progress? Robert was selected by his fellow clients to receive the “Client of the Year” plaque at The Arc’s annual Awards Banquet in 2016. Such an honor would not have happened a few years ago.
Robert was part of The Arc’s Health Meet program where he learned about nutrition and exercise. He has dropped 3 pant sizes. Best of all, has keep off the weight! “He’s cooking vegetables again,” says Mom, “yes, he cooks, not fancy food, but he cooks!”
The Arc of Alameda County – A Side Benefit
While focusing primarily on her son’s progress, Mrs. Virgilio, notes that she is grateful to The Arc and similar support organizations because they allowed her to work, pay taxes and spend time with friends during the course of Robert’s life. “You need your own life, too,” she says.