I haven’t written about this in a while, but a few years ago I came up with the idea of getting a few of my autism mom friends together, women I’d known for more than a decade, to try and create a group residence down the road for our severely autistic kids. I’d mentioned it to all of them but was finally spurred on by one of the women with a “what are we waiting for,” and we all met and christened our endeavor “Homelife 21.”
It’s been over a year that we’ve been meeting monthly, and finally our 501(c)(3) status has come through. We are official.
It will be years before this comes to fruition, and I am okay with that, as things are going well with Justin at home. At this point we’re looking at seven or eight years down the road, which could potentially coincide with my youngest moving out, which for Jeff and I would mean an empty nest.
That’s a dream I would have imagined was impossible ten or fifteen years ago.
We have big plans for this residence. I won’t divulge everything now as we are just fleshing it all out, but we hope it will be an amazing experience for all these young men, filled with fun activities, an avenue to give them some measure of independence in a world where they will always have 24/7 caregivers.
I’d like to give my son that freedom.
I’ve written about this dream in the past, and have received some criticism for our project. I’ve had people intimate that I want to get rid of him, conveniently forgetting that at some point his father and I will die and no longer be able to care for him. My wish is to see him safely settled for years before we pass, so we can iron out the kinks, and still be able to visit him and have him spend time with us before we are too decrepit to travel.
His father and I will always be in his life to our last breaths. We just need the part we play to transition from caretaker to visitor.
When I get together with my friends I feel very optimistic about the future. It will be an incredible amount of work- finding a home, land, hiring staff, furnishing it, etc. There will be many challenges along the way.
But I know it will be worth it. And I know in my heart for my particular child it is kinder to do this sooner rather than later, while he is still young and more flexible.
I hope he loves it.
And after watching him embrace a week of sleepaway camp for the first time in nineteen years, I have hope.
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