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Vocational Success Stories, Olaf

Olaf at the campsiteOlaf was born in 1975 with Congenital Rubella Syndrome. He is deaf, legally blind and has been diagnosed with mild mental retardation. He grew up for the first 9 years of his life at home with his parents and siblings. At age 9 Olaf was experiencing communication and behavior problems at home and school, so he was removed, under protest, from his family home and placed in Napa State Hospital.

Over the next 9 years he was housed and educated in a series of institutions including Napa State Hospital, Riverside School for the Deaf, and Fremont School for the Deaf. At 18 Olaf graduated High School and was sent back to Napa State Hospital. Over the next four years Olaf was housed in a high security unit, while his family tirelessly sought a support program that could meet Olaf’s communication needs.

In 1997, two patients physically assaulted Olaf where he was punched repeatedly in his left eye. After several surgeries Olaf has a prosthetic left eye. Efforts to secure Olaf's release from the state hospital were increased, and he was placed in a group home in Sacramento that was a provider of Olaf hard at workservices to Deaf-Blind consumers.

In February 1998, Olaf moved from the group home into Supported Living Services provided by S.T.E.P., Inc. That was the day Olaf met David Wade, who he describes as "My staff, my teacher, my friend, my brother." David is Olaf’s Vocational Coach. Over the last nine years Olaf has been employed at several job sites, but mostly at landscaping. He is a focused, skilled, and hard-working man. Like all of us, Olaf has experienced a few “bumps" in the road of life, but each time he consistently attended his job. Olaf communicates in sign language to his coach and co-workers, and moves ahead toward the future.

In April of 2007 Olaf was offered and accepted a position as STEP Vocational’s Customer Service Representative.

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