Frontline Initiative Choice, Direction, and Control

"She's always proved me wrong."


This article was adapted and reprinted with permission from Pierce, Mary. (2015). Adult Developmentally Disabled Services. Keith County News.

PAKS (Perkins, Arthur, Keith and Surrounding Counties) began serving young adults with developmental disabilities in 1968 in a sheltered workshop environment. Over the years, PAKS moved from services in congregate settings to individualized services. Today, services and supports are designed to be flexible to meet the needs of each person. Our mission is to encourage individuals to reach their highest potential by providing opportunities to live and work in the community. Facebook  or email

When Jim Ayres’ daughter, Jacque, was a child, services for individuals with developmental disabilities were limited in comparison to services available today. Today, Jacque is a 46-yearold woman living independently and thriving.

“‘I vacuum and clean my dishes. And, are you ready for this? My dad gave me new tablet and I can play bowling and Angry Birds,” Jacque said. “I love the birds.” Jacque was born with Down syndrome. She began receiving state-funded services at age five.

“It was the old era so when she was five she went to the training school,” Jim said. The training school was a facility that operated a day program for children with disabilities. It was separate from the public school that her peers without disabilities attended. “They hadn’t started inclusion yet, and that was her services,” Jim said. “I wish she would have been able to go to high school.”

At 18, Jacque began attending Perkins-Arthur, Keith and Surrounding Counties Developmental Services (PAKS). PAKS is a program that taught Jacque daily living and work-related skills. Later, she transitioned from living at home to living in a group home before moving into her own apartment.

When she moved to her own apartment, Jacque used supports that helped her live more independently. She knows her neighbors, and they know her. She does her own housework and laundry. Someone helps her with meals, and changing and making her bed. She has additional safety and security measures in place. “She’s really very independent,” Jim said.

Jim said Jacque’s skill and independence levels have changed as the availability of services have changed and expanded over the years. These have supported her to be an integral part of the community. Today, Jacque receives specialized residential and vocational services from PAKS. Those services, as well as with support and help from family and friends, Jacque lives a full, meaningful life, her father said.

A PAKS support partner goes with her shopping, assists with meal planning, and helps her in her home. “And they get her out of the apartment,” Jim said.

Jacque’s days are spent in meaningful ways. She works part-time at the local Arby’s. “I help the customers,” Jacque said. “They like to talk to me.” On the other days Jacque volunteers at the Women’s Resource Center and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Jacque has transportation to her jobs and on outings provided by her community support partners. She also enjoys riding her bike to work. “You have to wear a helmet and be safe,” she said. Recently, Jacque’s bike got a flat tire and a friend fixed it. “And you know that guy whose name is Rick? He fixed my bike. He’s a wonderful man,” she said.

Jim said, “I totally appreciate this community for the way they’ve accepted Jacque. Everybody’s friendly with her and it makes her life a lot more pleasant,” he said. Jim appreciates the changes in services his daughter has received, especially additional learning opportunities for Jacque. “The truth is I’ve always said she won’t be able to do that. No, we can’t put her in an apartment by herself. We can’t let her ride a bike. But she’s always proved me wrong. Every single time,” Jim said. “And that’s a good thing.”

The PAKS support partners have played an important role in supporting Jacque to live, work, and enjoy relationships with her community. Jacque’s support needs and her goals have been identified, and they have been continually revisited throughout her adult life. As she receives day-to-day supports, the support partners have not made Jacque’s choices for her. They support her to set the direction for her own life. In doing this, she has exceeded expectations. She continues to take control of her goals, benefitting from the support of her PAKS support partners.