September 2012
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Independent Lives – Adults With Disabilities

Advances in neonatal medicine have meant that the number of babies surviving with serious disabilities has increased a lot in the last few decades. Children born with disabilities in the 70s and 80s are now adults, and it’s natural for them to want to try to live an independent life.

Some adults survive with minimal support in the home.  An adult with mobility problems may need a stair lift installed, or to have the bathroom converted into a wet-room with plenty of space, and rails for them to grab hold of if they lose their balance.  Adults with learning disabilities may need more long term support, however.

Support Doesn’t Mean Doing Everything

Starting down the road to independent living can be intimidating, especially for adults with mental disabilities.  For example, an autistic child that did not go to a mainstream school, and that has been sheltered from the outside world for most of their life, may struggle to move in to their own home, deal with a landlord, pay bills, take responsibility for their own laundry, and generally deal with a lot of strangers.

A young adult in this situation may want to join an autism support group and spend some time getting used to new routines, meeting new people, and exploring the world beyond their family home.

At first, they may feel like there’s simply too much to get used to, and too much to do, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As a parent, you may feel like you’re doing your child a favour by always cooking for them or doing the laundry, but in the long term you’re hindering their path towards independence.  Instead of doing everything for them, consider offering some support in the home, but letting them try to do things for themselves.  If they can learn ways to work around their disability in a safe environment, it will give them the confidence they need to become independent.

Government Support Takes Time

Most local authorities have some form of support network in place for disabled adults, however there are often long waiting lists for even the most basic of aid.  If you, or an adult you care for, qualify for support from a local group, it’s worth contacting them even if you don’t need help right now.  Sometimes, just being on their books can make it easier to get help in a timely fashion when it is needed.

Support for Serious Disabilities

While many disabled adults can enjoy a good degree of independence with just a few small changes to their home, there are others that may need more support.  An adult with a disability that requires regular medical treatment, or one with a learning disability that severely impairs their ability to deal with day to day routines may need to live in a supported housing area with easy access to residential care services.

Autism support services can do a lot to improve the quality of life of adults that want to make the first step towards independence, but running a home is a big step, and something that should be approached slowly, with careful consideration.

This article was written by James Harper on behalf of Voyage Holdings, providers of autism support and support in the home for people with disabilities. Follow this link to find out more about support in the home or autism support services.

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