picture of Julia
©Kimberly McGuiness

Meet Julia

Who is Julia? 

  • She is smart & funny
  • She is 35 years old
  • She graduated in May 2011
  • Loves to be with Dad
  • The only child in the family
  • Likes to travel
  • Likes to help with any project
  • Likes learning on the computer
  • Likes to participate in Special Olympics
  • Likes to spend quiet time with Mom
  • Likes art, drawing and painting with watercolors
  • Likes getting mail and sending cards to people
  • Likes to be outside
  • Likes to go shopping
  • Particular about her clothes
  • Likes to eat out
  • Likes watching baseball, football, and Nascar
  • Like photography and taking pictures with her phone
  • Likes gardening and taking pictures of the sunflowers she grows
  • Likes to volunteer and help people
  • She is a good worker and dreams of having a job
  • Likes going to social activities with her autism group and DIGS
  • She is Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • She is Moderately Intellectually Delayed
  • She is Speech/Language Impaired
  • She is Autistic

What are Julia’s strengths?

  • Always has a smile, and her spirit and love are infectious
  • Pays attention to visual details
  • Likes to help around the house
  • Arts, crafts, and building things (putting things together and being creative)
  • Sensitive to others
  • Physically strong
  • Willing to learn
  • Good Worker
  • Autism Group and other social activities through DIGS
  • Don’t forget a thing
  • Uses a variety of communication strategies (sign language, picture symbols, written language, text messaging)

What are Julia’s successes?

  • Ray A. Kroc Award
  • Spirit Award
  • Graduation & Diploma
  • First place ribbon for her photography at a local fair in the animal category
  • Has many ribbons/medals from Special Olympics
  • Can fold and put away own clothes
  • Can make independent choices
  • Have numerous principals’ awards
  • Have several soccer trophies/medals
  • Her artwork has been displayed for public viewing
  • Is good at operating a computer
  • Can clean her bedroom by herself
  • Can make her bed by herself
  • Gets dressed independently & makes choices about her clothing
  • Can make/cook a small simple meal independently for herself
  • Can do her laundry and other home chores

What are Julia’s greatest challenges?

  • Dealing with unexpected, Anxiety
  • Some reluctance to do things on demand when the proper visual supports, communication, or explanation is not in place or has been introduced.
  • Inability to move forward once “stuck” on a particular topic of interest
  • English Language, Communicating with unfamiliar partners
  • Retaining previously learned information or skills when consistency and proper communication is not present
  • Processing new information, when visual cues/tasks list/communication is not present, including an interpreter
  • Proper alignment and control of eye muscles and eye contact
  • Sensory Integration doesn’t like the touch/feel of things with stiff fur like doll hair
  • The impact of her disabilities on life skills and work opportunities, living with Deaf/Autism
  • Professionals in the community/workplace are ignorant of her communication and learning needs and lack proper training
  • The fear of being without a job or being taken advantage of while on a job or in a work environment.

What supports are needed for Julia?

  • A supportive inner circle team to monitor her needs and they are met appropriately
  • Staff with quality expertise in sign language
  • Communication supports (sign language, picture communication symbols, text messaging, etc)
  • Establishing friendships
  • Increase receptive/expressive sign skills/knowledge for success in the workplace
  • Opportunities to be included in the community
  • Use of assistive technology to perform life skills, (her current phone)
  • Have a routine that is structured yet flexible
  • An environment that promotes parental involvement
  • Opportunities to participate in a variety of community activities
  • In-depth training for work opportunities with a job coach having qualified sign language communication skills and the knowledge Julia requires to be successful

What are dreams for Julia?

  • Have meaningful employment
  • Volunteering in her local community
  • Expand her ability to communication
  • To learn/comprehend the English language
  • To travel, and explore areas outside of her box
  • Have a circle of friends who know her and who help her succeed in a positive way
  • To become independent to the best of her abilities
  • To be active in the community
  • To be able to communicate her own dreams and desires
  • To explore every option to maximize her learning and work capabilities
  • To live as independently as possible in an English-speaking community


Julia has a great desire to be a part of the group and does not want to be singled out. Therefore, a cooperative learning environment with the openness to try anything and everything works best for her. After all, no determination has been made as to her full potential. Due to Julia’s range of needs including, her language and communication mode, and academic level, opportunities for direct interaction with qualified professional personnel and appropriate socialization among peers are critical for her participation in work and community functions. As Julia moves forward, effective communication and consistency in learning will maximize her chances for a smoother transition toward independence. Professionals must strive to provide the necessary support for communication, as allowable/directed by law to help Julia become successful in whatever opportunity she is being considered for in the community workforce.

Prepared by Kimberly McGuiness, Julia’s Mother, 2001-2024

Read Julia’s story

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julia holding an art canvas she painted of a truck
Julia with some of her art