Kevin often begins comments with the phrase, As far as I can tell. Being autistic, he undoubtedly has reason to question his perceptions of the reality around him.Kevin is not of the young generation of autistics who always remain in the community. At forty-two, he belongs to the latter part of the era of institutionalization. For twelve years, we managed to resist that tide, but despite our determination and extreme efforts, he ended up spending six years in a Toronto residential school, and after a period at home, lived for several more years in a group home.
Now, at his insistence, he is home again – this time with his own living quarters, service dog, Juno, and part-time assistants. He’s very happy about his current life but being the intelligent person that he is, he worries about his future. Of course it concerns us as well, but we have plans in place and Kevin has three brothers to help him manage his future.
There are thousands of families tending persons with autism or other disabilities in their family homes. It is their common worry that their sons and daughters will suffer loneliness and neglect when they, the parents, are no longer able to be caregivers. Once parents are gone, life-style choices are limited by a serious lack of government funding, creativity and will.
In lieu of retirement communities, most disabled people will spend their golden years in nursing homes, group homes or some other form of institution. To be sure, many people are content in well-run residences which offer dedicated care, especially when the individuals themselves have been involved in their placement and housemate selections.
Kevin’s dream is that others will be given the same opportunities for normalcy that have been afforded him. As far as we can tell, with public awareness, this could become a universal realization.