Neverending Story

During a Christmas dinner this last week, my husband and I were able to reconnect with a long-time friend. She, too has had to navigate this uncharted territory of parenting an adult child with developmental disabilities. We asked how her daughter was doing, and where she was living.

She told us that her adult daughter - who is several years older than Alan - was in a Human Development Center (HDC) in the eastern part of the state. "Angela" was finally in a placement that enabled her to live a productive life, while also maintaining the level of supervision she needed. Her daughter had experienced difficulties with living in a less restrictive community setting until her placement in the HDC. Although the thread of our conversation was interrupted several times with other topics and the usual diverse conversations at a dinner table, we returned to it again and again. It was as if we were grasping at a life raft in a sometimes turbulent ocean. Having someone else share the frustration and pain of trying to provide just the right combination of freedom and supervision to help a disabled child thrive was a breath of fresh air. Because Angela is in a HDC, we expressed concern with the lawsuit between the U.S. Justice Department and our state over the HDCs in Arkansas. While the Justice Department contends that housing adults in this setting is not the least restrictive environment for these adults, many parents disagree. Our friend is one of those dissenters, fearing for the havoc that would result if her child were forced again into the community. The lawsuit has not yet run its course, and the outcome is uncertain.

This is the "Neverending Story" of the journey toward successful placement for our children. It is one we seldom have the luxury of exploring with fellow travelers. We appreciated the time we spent with our friend. May the new year bring the best for our children, and for the adult children of so many others who walk this road.

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