I recently have been searching for answers about what happens to children with disabilities when they reach 18 years old.
All I really have found is it depends where you live and what resources are available within your city.
Families with a child who is disabled can receive money to take care of medications and other expenses — depending on how much money they make themselves. But after they turn 18 it becomes a different story.
The person with the disability will be considered an adult — despite their disabilities — and funds are handled accordingly.
It appears, from articles I read, the disabled person either receives nothing (or very little) and the parents take care of their disabled adult “child” out of their own pocket or send them to live in residential institutions where they can apply to receive funding — for some, parents have to pay for these services.
Many parents opt to take care of their now adult “child” but simply can’t afford it because of their needs.
The next concern is their abilities — how able are they to take care of themselves? Can they work, clean, do they need prompts to take medication, are the destructive to oneself, others or their environment?
My family faces this issue.
My 17-year-old brother got his first job this week and he is very proud of it — working at one of his dream jobs, helping build houses — with constant supervision.
My brother was three when we found out he won't be like children his age and we were not sure what the future was going to be like for him.
The doctors diagnosed him with an array of things, all labeled under autism — along with developmental delays and deafness in one ear.
This boy has the strongest will to work, but he cannot by any means live alone. He must be prompted to bathe, eat, take medication and he is destructive to his environment and has a difficult time communicating with others.
He can get paid a decent amount of money to work as a construction assistant — it could possibly cover rent and utilities (which he will need assistance with paying), but alone, will not cover the medication he needs nor will it cover a professional to watch him when he’s not at work.
Hopefully he can transition into residential care without having to quit his job to pay for it or live with my mother without the same issue.
I’m not saying one should have everything paid for, but if there is going to be a system to help people with disabilities I hope it allows them to live to to their fullest potential. I don’t want my brother’s dreams to become crushed because he couldn’t afford to work — when he is completely capable of working. I will continue my search for answers on this topic.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.