Our son enjoys being independent.
For example, he loves going to parties despite his autism, he enjoys the music and the loudness. He seeks the sensory input that so many others avoid—and loves to share his love of music with the DJ.
We had discussions about him eventually living away from home. So we visited a few group homes in the area.
I want my son to make an educated decision. Too often, young adults with disabilities are left out of the decision-making process when deciding where they will live.
As parents, we forget how much freedom our children have in our own homes. They have access to cable TV and quite possibly the Internet on their own computer or iPad. Many times, they can eat what they want when they want. Freedom to go where they want such as going to worship service or monthly dances.
After my son learned about group homes, he declared one evening, out of the blue, “I don’t want to live in a group home.” What had he seen or heard? We don’t know. But he had made a decision about where he wants to live.
We think setting our son up in a supervised living arrangement is best. But group homes have no regulations. Other than yourself as a parent, the only monitoring of your child’s well-being or happiness occurs during monthly visits by the case manager from your local IDD authority.
Living independently in an apartment is scary, too. What happens when the caring staff and you are gone? Who will ensure your child is happy?
Maybe it’s time to set up a support network!
A support network https://www.navigatelifetexas.org/en/family-support/personal-network is a group of people who learn about an individuals’ support needs and how they work, what makes the individual happy, and what the family’s and the individual's wishes are.
They become a team that supports and cares about your child. They are not the caregivers, but a support team who watches out for your son or daughter. Texas Parent to Parent www.txp2p.org helps families facilitate support networks http://www.txp2p.org/parents/TexasNetworkConnections.html.
We will create a network to support my son’s life and his decisions as we look into apartment living.
Are we worried? Yes.
But every parent, regardless of whether their child has a disability, worries when their children leave the nest.
To learn more about transition, check out the Transition to Adulthood section on this website.
Parents need to start early and help their child build the skills needed for future employment
I realize that while I may be an educated parent, I can always learn something new to help my son and other families navigate the world of disabilities. I have learned so much in an online course called "Partners in Policymaking."
Sam Allen has high-functioning autism. He was recently recognized as a Student Success Story at the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE) annual conference.