Brandon and Elm’s Noelle Heaton. (This photo was taken prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.)

If you tell Brandon your birth date, he can tell you what day of the week you were born, along with what day your birthday will land on in the current year. At Vodec, he’s known as The Calendar Man, and if you’re lucky enough to meet him, he just might ask you without prompting.

Brandon has been attending Vodec’s Elm Program since 2006, the year he graduated from Burke High School. When he’s not busy spelling, smiling or learning new vocabulary words, he works on increasing his mobility and socialization skills with the help of Elm staff.

“Brandon takes pride in his mobility, especially when transitioning into his stander each day,” said Megan Davidson, Nebraska Day Services Supervisor.

He recently began using a new method of “pivot transfer” out of his wheelchair by using an Etac Turner PRO, a mobility device that allows consumers to turn safely with standing support. “It taught Brandon the responsibility of using his own strength during a transfer, therefore relying less on the strength of staff who assist him,” Davidson said.

The Elm program has helped The Calendar Man overcome a number of challenges that relate to expressing himself. “Over time, Brandon has become more aware of his triggers – loudness and repetitiveness – before escalating into crisis mode,” Davidson said. He’s also learned to make use of his noise cancelling head phones, which he keeps in his backpack at all times.

How do you characterize this extroverted, interesting consumer in a few words? Davidson settles on intelligent, detail oriented and social. And lovable – that’s a big one.

Brandon is an avid speller and loves to learn new vocabulary words.

3 Questions for Brandon’s Guardian

Vodec: How did you hear about Vodec and the Elm Program?
When Brandon aged out of Burke High School, they recommended Vodec’s Elm Program for him.

Vodec: How important is Elm to Brandon’s overall well-being?
Brandon loves Elm and looks forward to it every week. I feel the socialization and therapy he receives is very important to him. He really enjoys everything Elm has to offer.

Vodec: Would you recommend Elm to others?
Absolutely! I think the program is wonderful, and the consumers in the program benefit greatly from having it available to them.