Planning for Stage IV: Child's Age 22 and Beyond
The first step in the process is to understand your own readiness for seeing your child as an adult on their own. The definition of “on their own” does not mean without assistance but means not under your constant protection and view. Again, think of your other children. Could you have imagined them handling their own affairs, doing their own laundry, making the right social choices as long as they were living under your roof? For some, the time for separation couldn’t come soon enough. For others, it seemed to never be the right time. But in all instances, it involved an emotional readiness to accept the risk of independence. The same is true with a child with a disability. Only you have fewer answers and more questions and more insecurity about the decision that you are making.
In trying to determine what kind of home you envision for your child as an adult, one of the main criteria which differentiates one type of setting from another deals with how much assistance your child will need in order to handle the daily needs of life. This should be broken down by the basics of: food , personal grooming and daily hygiene care, money management and social activities and connections. How much physical assistance does your child need in order to handle these tasks? Do they need someone physically on site with them in order to accomplish these tasks or do they need reminders through visual cues, organizing the environment so as to limit confusion, support from people outside of where they live or do they need to be under the watchful eye of someone living in the house.
Have they ever been left alone for any period of time? For an overnight period? If they haven’t, what do you worry would happen if they were alone? Can they be taught to handle what you fear will happen. Is that fear of “what if” the same you fear for your other children in terms of now making the right choices?
Next rank what is most important to you and to them on the following issues. Remember, there is no right or wrong answers; these are for clarification purposes only.
Do you see your child living in an urban, suburban, or rural setting?
The answer is usually dependent on the ability level and therefore the importance of having access to stores, public transportation and jobs.
Does it matter if your child lives with others of the same gender or mixed genders. To whom does it matter? There are advantages to both and in most cases either situation is fine provided rules of privacy and space are clearly defined.
Location is often a variable which stands in the way of finding the “perfect” housing arrangement. Often families will insist on a location of a few towns, typically near where they live. Bear in mind that restricting yourself, however practical, may well eliminate a housing option which presents very compatible roommates and is perfect for the individual.
How insistent will you be about the level of cleanliness, the nutritional content of all meals, the organization of the room, the neatness of the apartment or the house, the bedtime hour, etc. These may seem like minor issues when you are thinking about them in the abstract. However, they will be the details which will make you re-evaluate your decision for independence daily unless you have come to terms with the value you place on each variable. Ask any parent what they want for their child and they will answer: “I want them to be happy”. It is the definition of happiness-your definition versus theirs that makes for peace and satisfaction with the decision of where the child lives as an adult. A parent wants to feel supportive of the decision. It is essential that these issues get resolved in order for that support to be felt.
Source: Dafna Krouk-Gordon, Executive Director, TILL Inc.