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Group home offers opportunities for intellectually challenged

Q: I never before realized how precarious our situation was until I had to spend a few moments chatting with oncologists and their staff at a cancer clinic.

The doctors think that I am going to see my way through this little scare and that is a mountain of relief for me but it also made me understand that I need to do something about my son.

He is 37, still living at home and getting out only to work in a rehabilitation program and attend the occasional social for all of the other clients there.

My son is intellectually challenged. He can work in a supervised setting and look after himself to a limited extent but he will never be on his own. I would like to see him admitted to a group home and I have talked to various professional people to help me have him admitted.

When I look at the care I give my son at home and compare that to the care he will get in a group home, I always talk myself out of it. He needs help from other people, and I have to learn how to accept that and let them into his life but I don’t know how.

A: No one can replicate the care that a mother can give to her children. What you need to understand is that even though no one in the group home is going to become a substitute mom for your son, the home can still give him an exceptional level of good care.

Most staff there are dedicated and determined to make life as meaningful for the residents as they possibly can.

In past years, the intellectually challenged were placed in large institutions, sometimes behind locked doors, and not given many opportunities. Few relationships with staff and residents were positive.

Your son can now go into a home and build some relationships with residents and staff. He should be treated with dignity and have opportunities to continue to help in the workshop where he currently goes during the day.

Your son is aging and even though he will never be able to tackle the world as your other children have, he needs to have as much freedom and independence from you and his dad as he can manage. He will get some of that freedom in the group home.

You need that freedom too. You also need the freedom to age with dignity. Letting go of your son and helping him find a new home will present amazing opportunities for both of you.

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