Clynton Avery’s fellow classmates persuaded his family to let Clynton graduate with their class. His mother, Ruth Clough, said, “He was actually going to graduate the year after that, but the kids from school, the ‘normal’ kids, asked us if Clynton could ‘please graduate with us.’ It was important to them, Clynton was a big part of their lives ever since they were all very little.”
Clynton’s next year in school was rough. Ruth explained, “The kids he had graduated with from school moved on and he stayed behind. He couldn’t understand why they all graduated and … he was held back.” Clynton responded by acting out, and at 225 pounds plus, he could be pretty difficult. His mother recalled, “I would have to go pick him up probably once a week in the principal’s office.” Ruth worked with the Center of Hope, their Area Agency, to enroll Clynton in the adult day program a year early rather than keep him at school.
While he was still in high school Clynton’s family worked with Center of Hope to plan for Clynton’s transition to adult adult services, including developing plans for him move into his own residence when he turned 21. The transition into the day services went very well and Clynton enjoyed his program. However, on Clynton’s 21st birthday the school district stopped paying for his services; with a budgetary crisis in adult services Clynton’s day program abruptly ended and any plans for residential services were abandoned.
To spare Clynton’s feelings his mother told him he was going on summer vacation early. But he knew. “He has this little shake that he does when he shakes something off … you know because he was gonna cry, and he just shook it off, and he’s like ‘I’m gonna be a man about this’.” He was sad, and as the summer went on, he got angry too.
In order for Ruth to continue running her real estate business she turned to her mother to care for Clynton. This arrangement did not last. Ruth explained, “He was mad at her one day. He was just frustrated, he had so many things bottled up and he can’t speak … He got mad and he pulled open the drawer and he pulled out a butter knife. He pointed it at her.” Ruth left work and came home to calm Clynton down. The next week Clynton threatened his grandmother with a real knife. Ruth knew it was no longer possible to leave Clynton with her. “I knew that it all had to do with his program (ending). He missed his routine; he missed his structure. He wasn’t with his companions anymore, he was just like missing everything, and he missed his staff. He just didn’t want to be at home all the time anymore.”
Ruth set out to convince the legislature she and her son needed supports. “I was in touch with every state representative that there was by e-mail,” she says, “John DeJoie from Concord was wonderful in following through, absolutely wonderful.” Eventually, funding came through for day and residential services for Clynton.
Even though Clynton is finally in a program, he is still recovering from having his services taken away. “He didn’t have those issues of being that physically aggressive before”, said his mother. “The knife thing and all those things happened after he was dropped from the program … there’s a major trust issue now, even with me. You’re talking about somebody that has been in a routine structured environment for 19 years and all of a sudden it’s just dropped.” It hurt Ruth’s real estate business too; she only has a third of the listings she had before his day program ended. His mother is hopeful that life will now be better for Clynton. “Even though he has his difficult side, he is just so popular and wonderful. He really is, the people in our area love him to pieces, they really do.”