DeWitt McPike is the kind of son any mother would be proud of. He’s a kind and gentle soul who treats others with courtesy and respect. He’s very polite, taking time to say “please” and “thank you”. He watches out for the well-being of others. He has a good home, holds down two jobs, and even volunteers in the community. And oh yes, Etta McPike, Dewitt’s mother, is very proud of her son, and practically gushes with pride when talking about him.
DeWitt’s journey to the man he is today wasn’t always smooth. As an individual on the autism spectrum, DeWitt faced behavioral challenges in his earlier years, as he struggled to express himself appropriately. With support, encouragement, and help in communicating, DeWitt has learned to express himself more appropriately, and his earlier struggles with negative behavior are pretty much gone now.
“He has come a long way in terms of his being able to express himself and being able to control his behaviors”, Etta says. “He’s such a people person now. I’m super proud of him!” Glenda, DeWitt’s former, and now retired, support staff at the Pike County Agency for Developmental Disabilities (PCADD) echoes this sentiment, saying, “He’s a people person. He can go anywhere and start talking to someone in a very mannerable and loving way, and I love that about him.”
DeWitt’s family is extremely important to him. DeWitt’s family is scattered everywhere from Bowling Green MO and greater Pike County to Hannibal to St. Louis to North Carolina. Weekend trips to his mom’s home in Hannibal and his sister’s home in St. Louis are frequent. To stay in touch with his more distant relatives, DeWitt uses and I-Pad and Facebook. Mom Etta says that DeWitt had the opportunity to travel to North Carolina not too long ago to visit his family there, and had a great time. “He’d love to go to North Carolina again!” Etta says… and you kind of get the impression this will happen sooner than later.
Amazingly, DeWitt can list off nearly everyone in his family tree, from close relatives to more distant relatives. DeWitt doesn’t really need the aid of a chart, either; it’s all pretty much in his head, and he’s willing to share this information with anyone who has the time to listen. Just a tip, you might want to clear your schedule… he has a big family.
Before the pandemic brought the world to a halt, DeWitt was very active in the community. Some of the things that DeWitt likes to do when there’s not a pandemic going on include swimming, participating in Special Olympics basketball, volunteering at The Learning Center and Head Start, and eating out with his friend Lacy.
DeWitt lives with two other roommates in a nice “supported living” home in Bowling Green, with supports provided by Ruth Jensen Village. Speaking of her decision to have DeWitt live on his own, Etta says, “It was very hard for me to put him there, but I am very happy with his services.” While at home, DeWitt likes to spend time on his front porch and listen to music.
DeWitt also receives support from PCADD, in both the Community Living Skills and Community Employment programs. With supports provided by PCADD, DeWitt is now employed both at the Gypsy Soul Salon and Boutique in Bowling Green MO, as well as at the new Bowling Green Visitor’s Center.
DeWitt McPike is a success story because not only has he overcome the behavioral challenges that he had in earlier years, he has blossomed into a caring and kind soul who improves the outlook of others by the grace of his presence. More than anything, though, he has made his mom proud, and that pretty much makes any guy a success!