There are many reasons and possible causes for a developmental disability. In our case, our youngest daughter had encephalitis when she was 5 years old. This was a life-changing event for her and for us, her parents. She was left with a mild developmental disability and epilepsy, thus preventing her from living totally independently.
L to R: Susan, Pat & Charlie
By chance we met a family who were frequent visitors to our area in Tennessee. Their daughter had spinal meningitis and seizures at birth, which left her with a mild developmental disability and a seizure disorder. She is about the same age as our daughter. When we learned they share the same vision for their daughter of independent living with limited supervision in a safe, supportive, community-centered environment, we knew that together we had to do what it takes to make our visions a reality.
In 2007 we, as part of a group of parents in Middle Tennessee, began in earnest to secure the necessary resources to create appropriate adult living spaces for this population. Springboard Landings was our collective vision.
Too often neglected or underserved are adults with developmental disabilities, many of whom continue living with their parents well into adulthood for lack of suitable alternative housing and support. But, like their now adult children, these parents are also aging and eventually come face-to-face with the frightening reality that one day they will die or may otherwise be unable to provide a home or guidance for their adult children.
Of those residential options that are available for adults with developmental disabilities, most are far too restrictive for adults with milder levels of disability. These are adults who are capable of self-care, can secure and retain employment, and independently use public transportation. They do not require around-the-clock supervision but rather require only occasional guidance or a helping hand when they encounter situations they find too difficult to manage on their own.
Our plan is to construct apartment buildings with eight complete apartments in each, which will open to a common area to promote community. Each apartment building will have a “house manager” whose role will be to coordinate community volunteer staff and to provide limited living assistance, advice, and help with decision-making. This arrangement will give these adults their own lives and their own surrogate families in addition to their natural ones.