Photo Credit: Freddie B. Photography™
The number of special needs adults that end up in the system is growing because they are outliving their elderly parents, who are their primary caregivers.
Special needs adults remain a prime concern for their aging parents. Patricia E. Bauer in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says: “A growing generation of parents is now facing old age and the prospect that their children with disabilities will outlive them. As have 2006, more than 716,00 adults with developmental disabilities were living with caregivers over the age of 60 in the United States.”
As a world correspondent for SpecialNeeds.com, I’ve had the opportunity to cover the Special Olympic World Games LA2015. California State Senator Jeff Stone of the 28th district has recognized my work. At a presentation ceremony I was presented with a proclamation award for educating people about the coming of the Special Olympics through the “Circle of Inclusion” campaign.
Senator Stone shared with me his commitment to special need adult care. He is making it his personal mission to help put back the monies that was taken away from programs that cared for special needs adults here in California as well as throughout the nation. When I told him about my mission to create a Nationwide Special Needs Adult Care Resource Network, he invited me to present this to his fellow councilman.
I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, I’m a high functioning, slightly autistic adult. Although I am capable of many tasks, maintaining things such as a bank account, making major business decisions, or life decisions is not my strong suit. I have a tendency to be overly literal and had always believed everything that anyone told me, making me a victim more times than I care to admit. I am very fortunate in the fact that with the support of my family, I was sent to an ASD (Autism) conference where I learned about Dr. Nicholas Dogris, who created a treatment called Neurofield. After receiving this for nearly two years, I am becoming mainstreamed and though I am not cured of my ASD, I am testing off the spectrum. I have made it my mission to educate others of this alternative treatment for mental and physical issues other treatments have not helped.
I myself, and three brothers, all with special needs, have heard our parents express concerns about what will happen to us when they are no longer here to support us. My mom and dad did the best they could to prepare us for the world, knowing we would face great challenges. For the most part, we are all high functioning, but without the strong support from our parents we would not have done as well as we have. My twin brothers are still dependent on them, and my other brother and I depend on our spouses. As my parents age, the fear they share with many parents of aging special needs children is not exaggerated.
A great attribute of human nature is that when people see that there is an immediate need, they have an incredible ability to not only fill it, but create networks, banks, community programs to maintain it. The human condition is overwhelming as it is, add special needs and behavioral health issues on top of it, and you have a growing demand for special needs adult care. Most systems can’t possibly keep up the growing number of adults in dire need of even the simplest of recourses. That is why an Adult Resource Network providing employment, medical, and educational opportunities to all special needs and behavioral health adults is vital.
We have such wonderful programs in place for special needs children, but most support ends at ages 18-25. The few that are available to adults are few and far between. In order to support the growing number of aging adults with special needs, we have to get the successful programs to communicate with other existing programs to ensure all get proper care and achieve success themselves. A Nationwide Special Needs Adult Care Resource Network would begin with volunteers. Information would be gathered for a data bank that would include any and everyone that was willing to provide their service, education, employment opportunity to a special needs adult. Ensuring that when a special needs adult or their caregiver calls for help, information, etc., the person on the other end of the line is ready and willing to provide it. No one will be in that database involuntarily. For example, a dentist with a special needs child may be more willing to do dentistry for special needs adult versus a dentist with no special needs experience whastsoever.
For the future of myself and other special needs adults, having a system in place that assures support in the areas of education, medical and employment as well as partnering us with others that make up for certain skills we lack is vital. It will help us maintain independence from group home life and will give us the tools needed so we continue to live a healthy, happy and productive life long after our elderly parents pass on. This is not an unrealistic goal and with volunteers to implement this network, it will have every chance to grow and thrive, branching out to each community across the nation, and perhaps the world!
If you have information to support Robin’s Resource Network for Special Needs Adults please write to [email protected]