Updated: Jan 9
It's never too early...or too late...to plan
Through the Beyond Down Syndrome blogs over the last 18 months, we've covered a wide variety of topics from what independence means to you to financial resources due you to residential living options for adults with Down syndrome. I encourage you to check out the articles here.
Three principles have emerged:
It's never too early...or too late...to plan: independence for our adults with Down syndrome takes a lot of preparation for your child and the family as well. It requires support, an open mindset, and plenty of resources. Even from day 1, there are steps families should take. But if you are like many families with adults with Down syndrome in their 40s and 50s, it is not too late to prepare. As a matter of fact, it's urgent to start the process now.
Equal opportunity support: as with our other children, we need to have faith that our kids/adults with Down syndrome can grow, succeed, make mistakes, and flourish if we only give them a chance. We need to include them in future planning. We must ensure their environment is safe and secure. We also need to recognize that if we don't enable their independence, they will never find their true ceiling.
Independence for all: this plan for independence is not just for our blossoming adults with Down syndrome. It is for the whole family - parents and siblings alike. After a bit of an adjustment period, most parents celebrate a job well done when their last kids leave the nest. This should include our kids with Down syndrome. When you reach this point, you have fostered independence and confidence, and you are enabling unprecedented growth and happiness in your child. It's time to celebrate and enjoy your own independence.
These are important principles, but they are not easy tenets to follow. It takes time, focus, effort, leaps of faith, and planning. During the past year, many of you have participated in our parent's survey to learn a bit more about your child with Down syndrome, your hopes and their dreams, your biggest concerns and their greatest joys.
Below are 8 findings and how they relate to the path ahead:
Besides guidance on the steps toward independence, the next largest obstacle is financial resources. However, there are a wide variety of public and private residential living options to consider. And we also must ensure we are receiving all the resources available to us as early as possible...
The 21st century has unleashed huge opportunities for our kids with Down syndrome, from work to college to independent living. The opportunities are evolving rapidly, but the resources to understand and pursue options are not. Many parents just don't know the questions to ask or the first places to look. Families need answers and concise, reliable information.
As many readers know, this is a personal passion for me. Our daughter, Gwendolyn, finally achieved her dream of independence this fall at a fabulous residential living community. Now we want to pull together what we've learned along the way, broaden it to assist families across the nation, and provide that comprehensive guidebook.
We'll be researching and writing this guidebook in 2022 with planned publication on 03/21/2023!
In the meantime, I'll continue to share insights, answer your questions, and welcome your ideas in 2022, starting with a revamped website including easier-to-navigate articles and resources early in the year.
Sometimes this blog may get hidden amongst your Facebook posts or buried inside a Facebook Group. Don't miss each monthly blog filled with steps to help us all advocate for our adults with Down syndrome. Subscribe today!*