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Bailey Dettmer: Finding Independence

Written By Bobbi Dettmer

Adult woman posing with a peace sign.

According to her mother Bobbi, Bailey Dettmer has been a miracle from the start. Born second in a set of triplets to a mother who was told she wasn't likely to have children was only one in a series of miracles for this bright young adult. Bailey suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2003 at nine months of age, survived when doctors said she wouldn't, and changed the trajectory of her family's lives forever. “We were very fortunate in the early days of recovery to have a developmental therapist encourage us to sign up for CES Waiver services,” Bobbi Dettmer shared. “When I protested that I didn't know how Bailey was going to be, she insisted that was precisely why we needed to apply for Waiver.”

The Dettmers have never regretted their decision to go ahead and apply early for CES Waiver services for their daughter. Bailey began receiving CES Waiver services when she was three years old. Throughout the years, Waiver has provided supportive living staff and adaptive equipment that has helped her family give Bailey opportunities to be part of her community.

Fast forward to 2021 when Bailey was preparing to graduate from high school. “The question about where she would be all day loomed large in our family,” said Bobbi. “We researched and toured and applied for many programs until an accidental misspelling, or I like to think of it as divine intervention, brought ACCESS Life onto my computer screen. The services they have provided were exactly what I was looking for for Bailey.” ACCESS Life, a day program for adults with disabilities, would give Bailey the opportunity to grow socially while continuing to work on important life skills that promote independence, along with opportunities to develop prevocational skills needed to one day enter the workforce. Through Bailey’s CES Waiver Services coverage, Bailey enrolled in the ACCESS Life program.

In 2022, Bailey began working with one of her ACCESS Life instructors not only on weekdays through the program, but also additionally through Waiver. Isleide Aland became Bailey’s Direct Support Professional, helping Bailey work toward her goals of participating in physical activity to support her occupational and physical therapy goals, developing confidence in her social skills when interacting with others in the community, and finding new ways to gain independence as a young adult. “When I first began working with Bailey, she was timid,” Isleide recalled. “Bailey was hesitant to ask questions or interact with members of the community or even her peers at ACCESS Life. Now, she confidently chats to people when we are out running errands. At ACCESS Life, she has begun to bring friends together through UNO card games which has developed into a friend circle that is inseparable.”

Both the ACCESS Life and Waiver programs encourage independence and new perspectives for their clients. “Generally, ACCESS Life and Waiver have been impactful in the lives of our young adults by providing them the routine of day-to-day life experiences that are community-based,” shared Isleide. “I am proud of the diversity and culture we impart on our clients by partaking in activities such as shopping at different cultural markets. We then practice cooking and baking weekly with peers as a group, as well creating art and learning new traditions from other cultures.” For Bailey, this has opened her horizons. "I have witnessed Bailey grow socially and expand her interests in new things. For example, she is discovering and requesting to listen to new genres of music instead of just her favorite country music.”

Now as we enter 2023, Bailey has grown in numerous ways through the help of her teachers, staff, and therapists at ACCESS Life, along with her Waiver Direct Support Professional. “She has a job which provides her a sense of responsibility and pride, continues to learn life skills in the hopes of someday living semiindependently, and has made friends that will last a lifetime,” Bobbi told us proudly.

Through encouragement and real-life practice, Bailey has learned to be a leader and has found her voice. She has become a problem solver with day-to-day tasks. The future with Bailey is bright at ACCESS Life with the support of her Waiver team. "Knowing that she is happy, productive, safe, and loved is all ANY parent wants for their child," said Bobbi. "Thank you ACCESS for standing in the gap, seeing the potential in my daughter, and pushing her to meet it.