The power of choice and friendship is important to everyone. Sometimes the path to a future that embodies all that is important can be confusing. That is when SUPPORTbrokers of The Arc of Massachusetts can help facilitate these transitions.
Joe and Rob have been friends for most of their lives. Their families have become great friends in the process. These young men will be turning 22 in 2016. The families had often talked about the boys living together after they graduated from school. The families started looking at both adult day and residential programs in 2014. They asked the right questions, and gathered information. Neither family was new to being the voice, advocate and cheerleader for their sons; they had been working for the last twenty years to ensure their lives were the best they could be.
Due to the manner in which the boys are affected by their Autism, they can be aggressive and have self injurious behaviors, which make it hard for them to have many friends outside of their parents and siblings. However, Joe and Rob are friends, and have little ways throughout the day of showing their friendship. Each year they enjoy apple picking together. This year during the holidays one was singing while the one other danced. Joe and Rob have lived together for many years and attended the same private school their entire school career.
Both boys know each other’s parents well, and enjoy their company. The siblings have all gone to school together and know each other as well. These family friends could step in for each other if they were not able to be present at special events in their home or program. With this team of support, the families felt that they would have a “check and balance” or even another set of eyes for the boys moving forward.
Although the families did the program research and visitation, and let the school and DDS know of intentions early on, they were not getting any closer to reaching their goals. They even held their Individualized Transition Plan (ITP) meetings together. Despite these attempts, no plans were moving forward.
In the fall of 2015 they contacted SUPPORTbrokers at The Arc of Massachusetts and were connected to Broker Paula Thompson. Paula was able to help them achieve their goal of having their boys live together and help facilitate the transition from school for their sons, who are slightly more than 4 months apart. While working with Paula, they were able to learn more about the options in adult services, meet with the Area Director for DDS, and with the leaders of programs that had the clinical programming components needed for their sons.
With the assistance of their Broker, each family was able to individually sit down to help develop a plan about best ways to support their brother and son. Having a say in the process was important for the siblings. The siblings had a unique prospective on the hopes, thoughts and concerns for their brothers.
Through these processes the families were able to have input and choice into the agency that would provide their sons’ residential supports. Most importantly, the boys will be able to live together at the same home with the clinical supports they need. The families are currently in the process of looking at various homes with the provider agency and working with their SUPPORTbroker to set up expectations and timelines for these young men’s upcoming transition. Once the address for Joe and Rob’s new home is established, the families and their Broker will work together to find an appropriate day program. In the coming year Rob, Joe and their families are looking forward to a successful transition and new traditions.