Doesn’t My Voice count? Let me decide what my community is!

My son Thomas lives in his chosen community. Living in his community enables him to engage in one of the few activities that he can do independently.    Using his savant memory for people’s names together with  his naturally exuberant personality and insatiable desire for talking with people, he greats every person he sees by name and calls out “hi (whoever he sees)” at the top of his lungs and jumps with joy whenever he sees someone coming or in the distance.  If he doesn’t know your name, you will be greeted with “what your name?” and “what country are you from?”  Don’t be fooled though – he will never forget!

Thomas lives at a Residential Habilitation Center (RHC) or Intermediate Care Facility for People with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/ID or ICF/DD).  This is a campus community and one which suits him perfectly.

Below are some photos from his community:

Thomas’ Secret Garden – growing sunflowers and pumpkins here

Therapy Garden – Raised Beds – Thomas is growing herbs in his bed. He waters and tends to his plants here.

Open field next to the Healing Garden

FIrcrest Chapel nestled in the woods

Community members playing in the open field

Fircrest Healing Garden with wind chimes

Thomas running to the concert – excited about seeing Cowboy Buck and Elizabeth!

Below are some photos of some group homes in Seattle.  Group homes are wonderful for those whom the environment is appropriate but just because it is a group home does not mean that it is the least restrictive environment or a community.

Nice, well-kept group home but certainly not “community” or “least restrictive”

Another well-kept group home but is this “community?”

Community Home on busy arterial without fencing. Is this a safe community setting for a person who elopes?

 Please see this link for other issues with high traffic and group homes:  

Community Homes in High Traffic areas

I fully support a continuum of care and small, community group homes when that is the appropriate setting and truly the least restrictive environment for the individual.  What I am trying to illustrate here is the fact that just because a group home is situated in  a “neighborhood” does not mean that it is less restrictive, more community oriented or more appropriate for the person.  One needs to look at the individual and as both the US DD Act and the 1999 US Supreme Court Decision Olmstead state, the individual together with their family/guardian should be able to make the CHOICE.