Plamen is a kind man that doesn’t want to hurt people – he just wants to be nice. Before getting help from Hope Services, people who didn’t know Plamen and met him in a public space only saw a very tall man with sores on his body and face, who stared at them with an intimidating gaze – he didn’t appear nice.

What they didn’t know is that Plamen has Autism, severe OCD and ritualized behaviors.

People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) often have co-occurring developmental and behavioral health needs that require appropriate care. With the help of Hope Services Counseling Center, Plamen has been able to modify his behaviors in a positive way and address the trauma that impacted his life.

Plamen was referred to Hope Services Counseling Center by San Andreas Regional Center several years ago and began working with his clinician, Eric. It took Eric months of therapeutic services to build Plamen’s trust which led him to sharing the traumas of his life.

When Eric met Plamen, Plamen wasn’t aware of his obsessive-compulsive disorder of picking at his skin or the way an intimidating stare is perceived by others. Eric knew Plamen’s scratching was not an intellectual disability, but a sign of a mental health need and so he began working on behaviors and interventions with Plamen. And eventually, once the behaviors had been addressed Eric was able to get to the root cause of the grief and loss of losing his mother and father at a young age and no family to fall back on.

Eric noted “I know what discrimination feels like. And it must be incredibly difficult if there’s this layer of judgement on you.  It’s really hard to get away with discriminating against a gay person nowadays, or a black person, or a woman. It’s a lot easier to silently discriminate against somebody with needs. And so, when I work with my clients, I remember the humanity they have.”

Hope’s mission is to improve the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities and mental health needs. Hope Services Counseling Center needs have doubled since the beginning of the pandemic. Donations are critical to continue to serve the underserved, and help more people with developmental disabilities and mental health needs.