A Day in the Life of ADS

Like many of our staff, I’ve never spent a day at ADS, and though I have clients I know that attend the program, I wasn’t entirely familiar with the way things were structured. When Maria and Tracy offered to have me spend the morning at ADS, working with the staff and clients, I jumped at the chance. I’m so happy I did, because it was an awesome experience at an amazing program!

To start my day at ADS, I accompanied Matt on his morning transportation route. On the way to pick up the first client, Matt told me about the two gentlemen we’d be transporting. We discussed the types of music they liked to listen to on their ride in and talked about some difficulties one gentleman was having because of some things going on in his personal life.  When we arrived at JM’s house, it was clear that Matt has formed a genuine connection not only with JM, but with his family too. JM’s entire fact lit up when he came outside and saw Matt in the van. Our drive from JM’s house to MA’s house was filled with a Shel Silverstein audiobook, which left JM delighted. He was laughing, smiling, and knew the words to almost all the poems on the book, and would often recite a portion of the next poem before it even started playing. Matt did an incredible job of keeping JM and MA engaged during the drive, and often joked with both. As we got closer to ADS, JM told us about his friends that he was excited to see at “school,” as he calls it.

When we arrived at ADS, I was whisked off to Tina’s room, where I spent most of my morning. Tina’s room consists of five ladies, as well as two more staff. The ladies in the room are non-verbal and need a higher level of care and enjoy participating in a variety of sensory activities. Before the ladies arrived, Tina walked me through what the day would look like, showed me the room, and prepared snacks for the morning.

Tina’s room always starts their morning off with a snack. This morning, BO was the only lady interested in having a snack, so while she enjoyed some peanut butter crackers, staff got TB and AS set up for their sensory time. All the clients in Tina’s room require the use of a sling and a lift, which I had previous never seen operated. I don’t have much experience with durable medical equipment, so it was interesting for me to finally get to see how a sling works and how lifts are used to transfer clients. TB enjoys having her own little sensory corner in the room, where she sits on a comfortable mat and has a bag full of different kinds of sensory items. I sat with her and chatted, while she showed me some water beads and a mirror that she likes to spend time looking at. We had a few good laughs at our expressions in her mirror, and she showed me some things from the magazine that Tina gave her.

AS has a giant beanbag that she likes to spend her time in, and she was visibly happy once she was out of her wheelchair and situated on the beanbag. She’d had a bit of a rough start to the morning, but visibly relaxed and seemed content to chill in her “happy place,” as staff called it.

About a half hour into sensory relaxation time, Tina pulled out the supplies we needed to do the art project she had lined up. The project involved using shaving cream and paint to create marbleized looking hearts for Valentine’s Day. The staff in the room did a great job of trying to get all the ladies engaged in the activity, though there were a few who decided they didn’t want to participate. Looking around the room, it’s clear that the ladies who are in Tina’s group are an artistic bunch. There are art and craft projects all over, proudly on display for all to see. Tina’s co-workers told me they’re continuously impressed by the different projects that she comes up with and described her thinking as “out of the box.”

I was invited to sit in on the music therapy group for the last part of my morning, and what a treat that was! The group played songs together using a variety of different instruments, and each of the clients in the group was involved in some way or another. The music therapist did a terrific job of working with the clients and getting them into the music process.

The clients were all engaged in activities in their various groups when I was there, and there was a variety of programming taking place. One group headed to the gym right away when they arrived, while other groups started art projects, some clients worked 1:1, and some people enjoyed the simplicity of socializing with their friends. The staff at ADS seems more like a family than anything, laughing and joking with one another, helping each other out when needed, and working together to ensure their clients have the best experience possible.

The thing that stood out to me the most while I was at ADS was how much compassion the staff have, and how genuinely caring they are with the clients. Even though the staff are working with clients in a professional capacity, you can tell that they’ve taken the time to get to know each person they support on a personal level, and that they genuinely care about the clients.

Thank you to the ADS staff for having me there for the morning, and for being so welcoming. And thank you more than anything for the amazing work that you do, and the superb care you provide your clients. MORA is lucky to have you!


  • Nikki Storebo