By Jayne Dixon Weber
As your child grows into a young adult, you may consider independent or semi-independent living settings. There are a variety of living settings across the United States for people with developmental disabilities.
As you begin your search, these are aspects to consider:
- Guidelines for Establishing a Private Home, by Dr. Marcia Braden
- Moving from Pediatrics to Adult Services, a webinar with Dr. Marcia Braden
- Your young adult is not guaranteed anything when they turn 21.
- Every state has its own process for people with disabilities to be considered for state-funded services.
- Every state has different levels of services they provide to people with disabilities.
To begin the process:
- Find out how your state works and learn about all the various levels of services.
- Make sure you are on the appropriate waiting lists.
- Get to know your case manager or the person who will help you (start by calling your local ARC) obtain the services your young adult needs.
Take into account the variety of your young adult’s needs:
- Location: How far do you want them from you? Is there access to the community?
- Housemates: What is the number of other people your child could be living with?
- Daily Activities: What will they do during the day? In the evening?
- Transportation: How will they get around? Walk, ride a bike, bus, or car?
Always check on the staff situation:
- Who will do training on Fragile X?
- How will training on Fragile X be accomplished?
- What has been the turnover rate of the staff?
- What is the format of communication with the staff/care providers?
- How do they handle challenging behaviors?
- Can you speak with the parents of other young adults in the setting?
- Do they handle the doctor appointments, making them, and taking your young adult?
The Various Types of Living Situations
The following are some of the types of living arrangements that may exist in your area:
- Completely independent.
- A solo living environment with an intermittent case manager or care provider.
- Shared living environment — the number of people will vary depending on local zoning laws.
- Shared living environment plus an intermittent case manager or care provider.
- Communal living, such as Camp Hill or Stewart Home and School.
- Group home — numbers can vary — with onsite care providers.
- Host home – one or more living in a “family” environment.
- Residential or assisted living with a larger number of residents and opportunities to explore various types of employment and increased living skills.
- State institutions or developmental centers are considered only for individuals who are a danger to themselves or others.
Note: States or regions may have various terms for identical living situations. For example, one state might call a setting “prevocational training residence” and another state might refer to the same setting as “assisted living.”
There may be other variations of the situations listed above, but the most important consideration is to evaluate your child’s individual needs when considering a living setting.
Other aspects to consider:
- Can you “try” a setting out?
- Is there a requirement on how quickly your young adult has to transition into a setting? Some may require you to do it within a week, some may give you up to a month.
- What kind of plans are in place to help your young adult integrate into the setting and get to know other people he or she will be living with?
- How does the wait list work in your area? If a slot comes open and you or your young adult is not ready, do you go to the bottom of the list?
- What happens if an emergency placement needs to be made?
- How does guardianship (or whatever option you chose) or lack thereof come into play?
Where to Begin?
- Talk to your local disability organization.
- Talk to other parents.
- Call your local ARC.
- Google “residential living for people with developmental disabilities”
This is an exciting time for you and your young adult. Enjoy the journey!