I recently saw this post on FaceBook about a planned community being developed in Florida for adults with developmental disabilities. It’s a gated community designed to foster independence, while keeping residents safe.
Immediately, I realized I had two simultaneous opinions about this. One little voice said, “Wow! What a great idea! A place where everyone will have the assistance they need, the independence they deserve, and the safety that we parents worry so much about.”
The other little voice said, “Separate but equal,” and that statement conjured all of the negative connotations associated with that phrase.
April will soon be upon us, and whether we are looking for awareness or acceptance (or both!), I can tell you we’re not looking for exclusion from society for our kiddos. I have always taken The Boy out to eat, out to get groceries – we’ve never hidden from the public eye, because he needs to experience the real world, and the real world needs to experience him.
But the reality is that the world is not really set up for young adults like him yet. Under-qualified staff are hired to monitor group homes, that are often underfunded and inadequate for those seeking to live a meaningful life as independently as possible.
So, if reality is not progressing fast enough, do we sacrifice our kids, and try to force the round peg of our ideals into the square hole of current supports for adults on the spectrum? Or do we sacrifice our ideals a bit to get our young adults the supports they need, even if it isn’t in an ideal placement?
I don’t know the answer. I think we keep fighting for the ideal, while hoping that we’re not considered hypocrites for wanting our kids to be in a safe and supportive place.