Doctor, Community Credited in Young Adult’s Journey to Independence

by ih-chi admin

If you’ve ever shopped at Home Depot in Bee Cave, you may have seen 20-year-old Chris  Lucido collecting carts from the parking lot or assisting customers with their supplies. What you may not know is that he has been a loyal Home Depot employee for nearly 2 ½ years beginning in high school and now as part of a special program that connects adults with intellectual disabilities with work opportunities.

Becoming employed was a first step in what would become Chris’s journey to independence, something his mother, Barb Lucido, never thought would be possible. His latest accomplishment toward that goal was being accepted into the  AIM program (Adults Independent and Motivated), where he and eight other AIMers all with disabilities, are living independently.

Epilepsy at Three-Years-Old

Although Chris has only had a handful of seizures in the last decade, he was diagnosed with epilepsy at three years old. The associated seizures of his epilepsy contributed to developmental delays which is at about a third-grade level. It did not, however, keep him from being accomplished — ultimately, living on his own at 20 years old.

The journey wasn’t easy. The Lucido family moved from Chicago to Austin, Texas when Chris was 9 years old and just before learning that his father, Chet, also Chris’s best friend, had terminal cancer.

“We were going through a lot as a family,” said Barb. “Chris’s care was very important. We were with a well-known epileptologist in Chicago who recommended we see Dr. Karen Keough.”

Barb describes Dr. Keough as a straightforward yet compassionate doctor.

“You can tell she loves what she does. She makes sure she spends the amount of time she needs with each patient,” said Barb. “I know sometimes we might wait a bit in the waiting room but it’s because she’s spending extra time with someone, and I’ve been there, I’ve needed her to spend extra time with me and Chris.”

It Takes a Village

Barb remembers how challenging those first years in Austin were.

“Dr. Keough walked through my journey,” remembers Barb. “Without her support and confidence in Chris and her confidence in me, I’m not sure if he would have been as successful as he is.”

His most recent accomplishment required patience and commitment. AIM, which stands for Adults Independent and Motivated, requires that all potential residents go through a 12-month mandatory social engagement period before being able to apply to the program. His trial period began in January 2019 and he was recently accepted to the AIM.

Chris has experience in hard work. Before graduating high school, he was a batboy for the Vandegrift baseball team and also managed the Vandegrift football team. Barb says there was a great big community of people, from Dr. Keough to neighbors to friends at Chris’s high school, who rallied behind him.

“We have a great village. And, well, my son, he’s also a warrior,” said Barb.

You can read about Chris’s batboy accomplishments in the Statesman.