When Traditional Employment is the Goal

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Topeka, KS — For some, all that Spenser Acker has accomplished is not only remarkable but surely enough to satisfy his desire to work. However, Spenser desires more.


Spenser is a small business owner with Autism who creates art with colored sidewalk chalk in his family’s garage and driveway.  He creates images, often of weather patterns, and his parents capture his work through photographs. Together they have created a business, Spenser’s Focus, which features a line of cards, shirts, calendars, and other products highlighting his chalk artwork. An online business, www.spensersfocus.com, they also display his work for sale at local art fairs, disability expos, and other venues.


Operating this small business not only gives Spenser an outlet for his creativity and an opportunity to earn income, but it allows him to improve his communication skills and vastly expand his social network through the support of the Topeka art community. 


Even engaged in the businesses’ operation, he and his parents wanted more.


Spencer had been voicing his goal of having a traditional job at his day service program, with little progress.


It was a moment of happenstance for Spenser and his parents when they met Lifeshare Employment/Day Pathways Facilitator, Shelly May, at a statewide conference where both were exhibiting. Learning about the supports Shelly could provide to Spenser and his family, they invited her to attend his annual BASIS assessment and person-centered support plan meetings. Shelly assisted Spenser and his family in communicating his desires for traditional wage employment, incorporating them into his person-centered support plan document and assigning accountability to support team members to ensure his services were moving towards his goal of employment. 


Since that meeting, Spenser’s day services were adjusted and he is now engaged in a small engine repair business at the Capper Foundation, which pays minimum wage and teaches valuable technical skills and transferable work skills. He also continues to create and sell art not only through Spenser’s Focus but also in the gallery at the Capper Foundation. 


The next step for Spenser is job development, placement, and coaching through the supported employment department at the Capper Foundation, which will come about with the assistance of his parents and targeted case manager.


Thanks to Shelly’s assistance and expertise, things are definitely moving forward for Spenser!


About Sunflower Health Plan 
Sunflower Health Plan was established to deliver quality healthcare in the state of Kansas through local, regional and community-based resources, Sunflower is a Managed Care Organization and subsidiary of Centene Corporation (Centene). Sunflower exists to improve the health of its beneficiaries through focused, compassionate and coordinated care. Our approach is based on the core belief that quality healthcare is best delivered locally. To learn more about Sunflower, visit the website at www.sunflowerhealthplan.com.


About Pathways
Utilizing a whole-person approach to long-term care, LifeShare’s Pathways Integrated Care Model is designed to eliminate the silos that exist within the service delivery system through the bridging of network providers, defining quality outcome measures, and maximizing technology to reduce costs and improve communications. To learn how more about Pathways, contact the Pathways Director.


About LifeShare
Dedicated to the preservation and safeguarding of civil and human rights, LifeShare’s motto is “Real Life for Real People.” Founded in 1995, LifeShare continues its mission to create empowering home and community-based supports for people with developmental disabilities, children in the child welfare system and people of all ages and abilities, particularly those who are often marginalized by society. LifeShare offers a range of services including residential, community-based and in-home support programs, competitive employment, as well as mental health services for children and adults.


Today a subsidiary of Centene Corporation, LifeShare develops and delivers person-centered solutions for people with IDD and others with complex needs through managed care, state, and health organizations. LifeShare also continues to be a direct services IDD and child welfare provider in multiple states, offering educational programs and solutions for people with emotional and behavioral needs. For more information, visit the LifeShare website.