What happens when the parents are gone? This question began nagging at us several years ago.
Our youngest daughter had encephalitis when she was 5 years old. This was a life-changing event for her and for us, her parents. Although she is high functioning, she was left with a mild developmental disability and epilepsy, thus not being able to live totally independently. Through the years we have met other young adults who, like our daughter, can perform many tasks well, like holding a job, although in a relatively low-skill position. Some of these adults can drive, but their ability to move beyond their current highly-sheltered life into true independent living is limited by a combination of specific challenges including impaired judgment, limited understanding, and a compromised memory, among others.
By chance we met a family who were frequent visitors to our area in Tennessee. They have a daughter about the same age as ours who had spinal meningitis and seizures at birth. She was also left with a mild developmental disability and a seizure disorder. When we learned that they shared the same vision for their daughter of independent living with limited supervision in a safe, supportive environment, we knew that together we needed to make these dreams a reality. According to a June 2007 report filed by the Developmental Disabilities Task Force there are up to 39,252 Tennesseans who have developmental disabilities of this type.
When the question is asked, "What happens to me when my parents are gone?" Our answer will be: Springboard Landings.