North off Highway 421 beyond the bustle of Boone is a haven for a group of adults with special needs. Joy Cove Ministries is nestled off the beaten path and tucked in the mountains.
“We are so far back here that nobody knows about us,” Joy Cove administrator Nikki Johnson laughingly says.
“It’s wonderful here,” twenty-three-year-old Matt says. “You can judge this book by its cover. It’s beautiful on the outside and on the inside – especially the people.”
Matt has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. It is an autism spectrum disorder and is characterized primarily by significant difficulties in social interaction. Other characteristics include repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, activities and interests without significant delay in language or cognitive development.
Matt came to live at Three Forks Home to achieve greater independence. He had become withdrawn and was experiencing difficulties relating to his family, especially his two siblings.
Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) operates nine group homes for adults with special needs in six communities around North Carolina. BCH’s Developmental Disabilities Ministry (DDM) provides residents long-term residential care and opportunities to achieve goals in community-based, gender-specific group homes.
“I feel better about myself,” Matt says. “I have a job, I have activities and I help around the house – I really enjoy the times I cook for the other guys.”
Matt is an avid reader and spends lots of time playing video games. But those are not his only interests. Matt has a green thumb. He nurtures plants in his room and is quick to offer visitors a clipping or a sprig of cactus.
Initially, Matt’s Aspergers created new challenges for the home’s staff. A trainer from the Autism Society of North Carolina worked with Matt and the caregivers, offering techniques and tools for Matt to achieve greater success. The use of behavior modification flash cards has been very useful. Matt responds better to direction by reading cues than to verbal cues.
The relationship between Matt and staff members is life changing for Matt. He has gone from struggling to reach his goals to achieving almost 100 percent proficiency.
“My favorite things about living here are the people,” Matt asserts. “People are nice here – lots of love.”
Residents at BCH’s DDM homes experience a safe, home-like environment. Christian caregivers provide quality care with a loving touch.
“This is our mission,” Johnson says, “to be able to offer God’s love to each of our residents – for them to see God working through us as we serve them.
Matt's story was orignially featured in the April 2012 issue of Charity & Children.
Learn more about Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina's Developmental Disabilities Ministry at www.hereismyhome.org