Daymark Life

Stories of Independence: Austin Underdawgs

Interview and blog post by Sarah Blackwell Austin Underwood, 39, went to college right out of high school, and studied to be a prep chef. He’s lived on his own ever since graduation, but since jobs in the restaurant business were hard to find, he worked at a local grocery store for 14 years before asking a local restaurateur for a job. It’s incredibly exciting to hear how his dreams have begun to unfold over the last two years.

Tell us about yourself:

My name is Austin Underwood and I have Down syndrome. I am 39 years old.

Tell us about your company:

Austin’s Underdawgs is a hot dog truck and we have a franchise.

When did you decide you were ready to start your own business?

In 2016.

Who helped you start your business?

My mother helped me start my business.

By | February 28th, 2018|

Meet the best friends and first residents in a special-needs community for adults in D-FW

This December, thousands of young North Texans will anxiously await letters of early acceptance to universities across the country. But not Michael Poston and Chris Wheeler. They already know where they’ll land when they leave the nest next summer.

Michael, 22, and Chris, 21, will be the first residents, and roommates, at Daymark Living, a soon-to-open community for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Waxahachie.

They’re stoked.

Daymark Living isn’t exclusively for college-aged adults. It’s designed to be a home for young people whose siblings, friends and peers are transitioning from high school to the adult world.

When Michael’s dad, John Poston, dropped off Michael’s twin sister, Margot, at the airport for her first year of college, he returned home to find Michael in the same spot he’d been in when they left, sitting on the sofa, watching videos on his smartphone. John knew his youngest son deserved to experience life as a great adventure, just like his other children.

Read more about this amazing […]

By | December 19th, 2017|

Learning to Let Go by John Poston

When Michael was in high school, it was easy to ignore the future. His days were filled with friends and activities, and he was reaching the milestones we dreamed he’d achieve. But then came graduation, and new questions arose.

The day I dropped Michael’s twin sister Margot off at the airport to leave for college, I was so proud. I’ll never forget watching her walk away, beaming with pride. When I returned home, I saw Michael in the same spot on the couch, watching videos on his phone.  And I recognized that despite him and his sister being only minutes apart in age, they were miles apart in their quality of life. I knew there had to be a next step for Michael, as well.

Sure, living with me meant Michael was safe and happy, but I didn’t want him stuck in that post-high school mode of life. On that path he […]

By | June 30th, 2017|

Getting Ready for Summer Employment

By Caitlin Mullis “If you could only know me for who I am, instead of for who I am not, there would be so much more to see, because there’s so much more that I’ve got…” – Marc Gold

Society tends to label and preset limitations for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities(IDD) on what “they” can and cannot achieve. That’s the problem with labels – by labeling a community you lose sight of the potential of each individual.

According to National Core Indicators, 84% of Adults with Developmental Disabilities do not have a paid job in their own community.  We have to ask the question: “Why is the IDD population facing such a difficult time seeking employment?”  Is it the labels that society has put on them, is it the company’s lack of knowledge, or just the unwillingness to take a chance on […]

By | May 3rd, 2017|

Letting Go is Hard, But Letting Go is Beautiful.

BY: KARI ZERBE It’s overwhelming. Since your child was born, you have dedicated your life to loving, caring, protecting, and serving special needs. Doing anything else just seems unimaginable. You are not alone and your parenting is never done. Without a long-term plan, your child could have a traumatizing experience if something suddenly happens to you. So you must prepare.

Loving your child now means beginning the process of letting go for the future. Your child needs your steadfast support through whatever transition will come next. And you need the peace of mind knowing that your child will be safe, educated, social, possibly working in the community, and enjoying a full, thriving life. As you begin the planning process for this next chapter, I’d like to share with you some valuable guidance and helpful hints:

  1. Promote self esteem
    • Not just by telling your […]
By | March 8th, 2017|

Ten Tips for a Meaningful, Independent Life

By James Williams ,MRC, CRC

When I was 12 years old, I received the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, today called Autism Spectrum Disorder, and my life was forever changed in a few significant ways. First, I finally had a name for why I felt so “weird” and socially out of place at the time. Second, with a name, I could do something about it right and get treatment. Finally, it gave me a sense of identity, which had previously just been, in my mind, “weird kid”. Well since that time, a lot has changed in my life, but those three things have actually not changed much at all and now, as a 30 year old adult, professional, husband, educator, counselor, doctoral student, and I am sure much more to come, I have not only come to terms with my diagnosis, I have decided that rather than letting it […]

By | February 8th, 2017|

Training for Your Financial Marathon

This article was written by Beth E. Freudenburg. Beth is a financial advocate at Chapman Wealth Management in Dallas, TX. Beth has a passion for helping persons and families prepare a secure financial future. She specializes in helping families with Special Needs members and supporting Non-Profits. To learn more click here.

Money is a concept that all of us learn very early. As well, every one of us will, independently or as a family, plan for the uses, capabilities and sources of the money that will pass through our lives every day. All that planning can seem like a marathon.

Your financial marathon is one of the longest races you will ever run. Most of what you and your advisor plan (depending on your family) should be done with a long term perspective, but balanced […]

By | December 16th, 2016|

Dream Planning and Future Opportunities for Special Needs

This post originally appeared at

I grew up in a family of people who pray. While those prayers were rooted in deep faith and accompanied with a history of tradition and church, the premise of the prayers were to let our thoughts be known–to speak our gratitude out loud and to unleash the deepest desires of our heart and give them wings; transform them from hidden thoughts to something bigger–spoken words empowered with the belief that what we asked could be granted. I remember countless prayers for babies, my grandpa adding “our grandchild on the way” to the line-up of other grandkids’ names in his prayers before they were even born. Intentions for these little lives were spoken out loud: “Please give them health, protect them, let them grow up to be kind,” and later continued into more specific prayers: “Let her find the right college, please help him do well […]

By | November 10th, 2016|

A Wide Variety of Amenities, for an Unlimited Variety of People

Another typical workday was here. My morning alarm sounded at 5:30 like it did every day, I got the girls ready for school like I did every day. I went to work like I did every day, and picked the girls up from school like I did every day.

Another daily routine over and done with.

But what would my day look like if I was 40 years old with a developmental delay? I’d live at home with my parents and I’d be perfectly taken care of and so loved, but would I be thriving? Would I be challenged? And what about the day after that, or the week after that, or even the year after that?

Reports indicate that adults with developmental disabilities are more likely to lead sedentary lifestyles, are seven times as likely to report inadequate emotional support, and are more likely to report being in poor health when compared […]

By | September 20th, 2016|