By Andy Furman
She’s a future American fashion designer. Vivian Wallace. Remember the name.
For now, the 18-year-old graduate of Ludlow High School is creating her own make-up – and selling it on social media and working on various Japanese eclectic theme fashions.
And once a week, Vivian meets with Jean Dreyer, the Supported Employment Specialist at The Point/Arc.
“I work with intellectual and developmental (I/DD) disability clients getting them, employment in the community,” Dreyer said.
Vivian Wallace is autistic. Also called spectrum disorder, autism impairs the ability to communicate and interact. Autism spectrum disorder impacts the nervous system.
The partnership between Vivian and The Point/Arc seems perfect.
“I get to know the needs of each client,” Dreyer said. “Know their skills, help with a resume for employment, job applications and do mock interviews.”
Vivian credits her Special Education teacher at Ludlow High School – and her parents — for pointing her to The Point/Arc to begin her career journey.
“Mrs. (Tammy) Roberts was very helpful; she knew my situation and worked very closely with me. I credit her for helping me.”
Vivian embarked on the Career Exploration program at The Point/Arc in September, 2022.
“I worked with Vivian last year,” said Susan Carter, now a Transition Instructor at The Point/Arc. “We present a buffet of possible careers – what they are – and how one can pursue their dream.
“We like for our clients to get to taste and get physically involved in career opportunities after high school.”
That wasn’t even a problem for Vivian.
“Fashion and pets,” she said, “those are my loves.”
For fashion, she says she’s involved with Yami Kawaii – a sickly-sweet type of fashion that was derived from Yume Kawaii with a strong emphasis on sickness motifs.
It is part of Anti-Kawaii which adds opposing elements to typical kawaii style to leave a greater impact. As the word yami means both “sick” and “dark,” it revolves around not only medical but also dark themes related to mental health.
And for pets, well, “I just love Ginger, my cat,” she said. “I pet every dog I see.”
So, the question for Vivian Wallace and her career choice – pets or fashion.
She wears her fashion – Lolita – so perhaps that choice has a – pardon the expression — a leg-up for her future.
“Lolita is a form of kawaii fashion,” she said. “It utilizes dress and accessories as vehicles for personal expression.”
Young women, it is said, are called “Lolitas” when they dress in an excessively kawaii fashion, donning layers of ruffles, big bows, and skirts with adorable baby animals on them.
“I purchase Lolita fashion on-line,” she said, “And I belong to Cincinnati EGL – Elegant Gothic Lolita.
“It’s a group that meets once or twice-a-month, fashion-related, everything Lolita,” she said. “There are over 20 people in the club, all different age groups and genders.”
Life wasn’t so simple for Vivian Wallace early on.
“My teachers assumed my temper tantrums were meltdowns,” she said, “They just didn’t understand my situation. I am autistic. And not ashamed to admit it.”
She’s also a future fashion designer – and The Point/Arc will help make that happen.
Jean Dreyer, the Supported Employment Specialist at The Point/Arc, has had success placing clients in the work force.
She’ll have no problem at all with Vivian Wallace.
The Point/Arc was founded in 1972 by a group of parents fighting for the educational rights of their children, who were diagnosed with an intellectual and developmental (I/DD) disability.
The mission – to help people with disabilities achieve their highest potential educationally, socially, residentially and vocationally. More than this, The Point/Arc has been an organization that identifies gaps in services and provides care and support to fill these gaps – even when government sources are not available.