ARRM Cares Nominee—Alexis Bryngelson
Alexis (Lexi) was one of Cheyenna’s first caregivers. Cheyenna was a quiet and shy girl who desperately wanted to experience the life most 16 year olds take for granted. She desperately wanted to make friends and hang out with them doing typical teenage activities. Cheyenna’s disability made it difficult to make meaningful relationships with others. Instead of joining in, she would remain in the background, insecure and unsure how to approach her peers. She also struggled to control her emotions and would often become aggressive, which hindered her ability to make meaningful connections. This all changed when Lexi started working with her.
In home support was something new for Cheyenna and she was extremely apprehensive about meeting Lexi. Thankfully, Lexi’s easy-going attitude and constant encouragement helped Cheyenna feel connected to Lexi right away.
Lexi brought Cheyenna to a teen gathering which consisted of many of her classmates. At first, Cheyenna was nervous. Always in-tune with Cheyenna’s needs, Lexi was able to redirect behavior and provide the support Cheyenna needed so she could introduce herself to peers as well as engage in conversations. Having Lexi by her side was comforting and Cheyenna was able to control her anxiety and stay engaged for the entire outing. Lexi interacts with Cheyenna like she would with any other 16 year old. She doesn’t let her disability define her—instead Lexi finds creative ways to build on Cheyenna’s abilities so she can make new friends. Now Cheyenna and Lexi meet up with this group of friends every Thursday! They go to movies, out to dinner, go swimming, bowling and so much more!
So proud of Cheyenna’s progress, Lexi encouraged her to attend the CCRI prom. With Lexi’s redirection, encouragement and boundless excitement, Cheyenna was able to pick out a dress, face the large crowd, and dance the night away! When Cheyenna felt overwhelmed, she knew she could go to Lexi for support and instead of shutting down, she controlled her emotions. They took breaks when they needed to, but got right back out on the dance floor!
The ultimate success was when Lexi and Cheyenna went to CCRI’s Camp H.E.R.O. Cheyenna had attended camps in the past and her experiences weren’t always positive due to anxiety and aggression. Cheyenna and her mother both agreed that Lexi would be the perfect person to take to camp. Lexi never even blinked when asked to attend the camp two hours away! Like always, she was up for the challenge. When there were hiccups, Lexi offered creative solutions and Cheyenna was able to move forward and enjoy the joys of the three-day summer camp.
Cheyenna’s team has commented on her amazing growth over the past year. Her ability to now state her feelings and identify her changing emotions has been such a positive skill—her aggression has decreased tremendously. She now has the confidence to walk up to her peers and introduce herself, which is always followed by an introduction of Lexi as “one of her very best friends.”
Alexis was one of 150 Minnesota DSPs nominated for a 2017 ARRM Cares Award for his work at CCRI. The ARRM Cares Award program began in 1996 to recognize professional caregivers who provide exemplary service to people with disabilities. Recipients of this award have demonstrated they are committed to providing innovative, professional services to people with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. Each year, six outstanding Minnesotans are selected for this award.