Adam Shipp is one of BHMA's most charismatic and upbeat students. He has a big smile, an incredible sense of humor, and an enormous passion for music. Adam is on the autism spectrum. He is entering his fifth year at BHMA as a member of our
LIVE Program (Long-term Independent Vocational Experience). We had the opportunity to chat with him about his time here and what he's working towards now.
Like many of our students, Adam began as a summer program participant prior to enrolling in the Two-Year Transition Program. He has lived in the dormitory here, as well as Meadow Lane (BHMA's off campus house), and now lives in the greater community with peers.
"I liked summer program— we did a lot of fun trips and music. That’s where I first met Kevin and Dylan who are still my friends. I like making new friends and I have a lot of friends here. It feels good to live off campus now. BHMA helped me be more independent. I can make my own food and walk out in the community and take the bus. I do room maintenance, laundry, and cooking. Just yesterday we had ribs with rice!"
Living at BHMA is often the first time our young adults live away from home. We asked Adam if it has been hard to live away from his home and family in Eastern Massachusetts...
"I’m close with my family. I love my family. I have two sisters and three dogs. It's okay, it's not bad. I still go home to visit and sometimes we go on vacation together. Easter of this year we went to Austin, Texas together. It was cool. We saw Josh Turner perform live and we saw an old friend of ours who lives there. We have fun together."
Adam can often be seen at BHMA with his earbuds in listening to one of the thousands of songs stored on his iPhone. All who know Adam know how important music is to his happiness and his development. We asked him about what he's currently working on with the music department:
"I'm in House Band now and it's going good. We’re doing “She Loves You” by the Beatles and I’m singing two verses. My favorite music to sing and listen to is rock ’n’ roll and sometimes pop. Rock ’n’ Roll ensemble is my favorite ensemble. I also like my lessons. I’ve gotten better at guitar and singing. I used to play the drums but not so much anymore. My instructor Aidan and I are learning an Ed Sheeran song called "Photograph" that I’m going to perform next time I’m up for Variety Hour. I'm excited, I love that song."
Vocationally, Adam has worked in a local dining hall at Hampshire College and now works on campus at BHMA. Having staff support to help Adam learn his routine in each setting has been crucial to his success, but as he's demonstrated readiness, staff scaled back their supports.
"I do maintenance at BHMA. I’m doing a good job. I used to work with a job coach every day but now I don’t need one as much. I like making money."
Berkshire Hills offers a variety of different clubs, activities and teams. Adam is a long-time athlete on our soccer, basketball and bowling teams. He's a competitor, a hard worker, and a team player in all arenas.
"I’m a good basketball and soccer player. One of my favorite memories is winning a gold medal at the Special olympics for basketball and for soccer."
What are some of your other hobbies?
"Outside of BHMA I like to play games- I’m a gamer. Right now I’m really into Rare Replay and you can play 30 games on it for Xbox 1. I also like movies. I’m looking forward to going to the movies with my girlfriend this Sunday."
Adam is a bright spot on everyone's day at BHMA- students and staff alike. He brings joy, laughter, and music with him wherever he goes. Adam plans to "never stop" singing and playing guitar. In the future, he hopes to move back to the Boston area and find a job doing something he enjoys.
Check out this awesome clip of Adam and the BHMA Rock 'n' Roll ensemble covering one of his favorite artists, Jon Bon Jovi.