As children with special needs reach adulthood, they often begin to have different needs and require different care. While many parents of children with disabilities are able to provide much of the specialized care their child requires, as that child becomes an adult it is sometimes beneficial to look into other options and find resources that can help you find special needs care for your adult child that will best serve them at this point in their lives.
While this can be a difficult conversation, it is an important one. For some adults with special needs, continued care from a parent or other loved one provides security and comfort, but others may find it limiting and prefer a situation that would allow them more independence and autonomy. This can be especially hard on parents who may feel that no one else can care for their child as well as they can. After caring for someone throughout their entire childhood, relinquishing care taking duties can feel scary and difficult. However, this can also provide parents with some relief if they worry about being able to continue providing care for their child as they themselves age.
Each family must come to a decision that is right for them. There are many options available. For some, it is best for the disabled adult to continue living at home with their parents but with a professional personal care assistant helping with care and giving both the parents and child more freedom and independence. Others may decide to move out and transfer care completely to professional caretakers. Still others may move into an assisted living situation or, depending on their individual needs, in with a roommate or friend who can help out when needed.
The best way to come up with a plan that is right for your family is to consider all available options, your child’s specific needs, and your current situation. Bring your child into the conversation as much as possible and allow them to give input and help to come to a conclusion that is comfortable for everyone.
Some of the options available include:
- Family members
Often, adults with disabilities choose to live with family members who are able to double as caregivers. This option can be ideal as family members are already familiar with the individual’s specific needs and preferences. It also provides safety and comfort for the individual and has the added benefit of everyone being in the same house and always available. It can, however, create strain in the relationships between family members, especially when this is the only source of care. Finding day programs or occasional help can relieve some of this stress.
- Personal care professionals
Personal care assistants (PCAs) are a great way for disabled adults to access non-family care. PCAs can provide care by assisting with bathing, dressing, and other hygiene needs; catheter or ventilator care; housekeeping tasks; or many other tasks that a person with disabilities may need. PCAs can be hired through an agency or hired and trained directly.
- Community-based homes and supported living arrangements
For some disabled adults, living in group homes provides greater independence while maintaining the support they need. Caregivers living or working at in these community-based homes provide a range of services, from assistance with medication, to help with decision-making or even applying for jobs. Residents in these situations often live communally, sharing activities and meals. This type of living arrangement also provides a built-in social circle with can improve mental health.
- Independent living arrangements
Many people with disabilities are able to live on their own, with the help of PCAs for whatever support they may need. Some may only require a PCA for a few hours a day, while others need round-the-clock assistance. This arrangement provides a greater sense of autonomy and freedom, if that is what the individual desires.
- Day programs
Individuals with disabilities may attend public school until the age of 21. At this point, some find that day programs provide a similar structure that is familiar as well as continued education. These programs help adults work on life skills while getting to socialize with a community of peers.
- Long-term care facilities
In some cases, individuals who cannot access other types of care may be best served by a residential facility in combination with other kinds of support. However, multiple studies have shown that most people with disabilities fare best in the community and in their own homes.
- Assistive technology
There are many different kinds of assistive devices available that provide many options for independence. These devices can help with communication, daily functions, and more. For people with severe mobility impairments, assistive technology can allow access to computers and the Internet as well as control of their home environment.