Resources for Adults with Special Needs
Where Do I Start?
Where do you begin looking for resources for adults with special needs? The answer most people will give is MHMR. However, if the adult doesn't meet the criteria for MHMR, they will not receive services. It is a misconception that everyone qualifies for help from MHMR. There is an evaluation process. They also have a priority list. If a client qualifies for that list, service begins immediately. If not, the client's name goes on a waiting list--if qualified.
In preparing for this article, I researched the internet. I would type in the name of a state and then 'resources for adults with special needs.' Every state had a directory of services for adults with special needs. Some had one for the entire state, while others divided the state into regions and the directories set up by regions. These directories list services for anyone from birth through adulthood.
Proud to Work
Facts and Statistics About Special Needs
There are many myths about adults with special needs. Some people think that the body and mind are mirror images of each other. If the body is deformed, so is the mind. Or if the cognitive abilities are not up to a certain range, the person can't be trained to do a job. The fact is that there are many intelligent people who suffer from physical disabilities. There are people who have lower cognitive abilities that can be trained to do jobs that are repetitious. Here are a few facts.
- People with disabilities are the largest minority group and the only group any of us can be placed within seconds. One car accident or stroke could render us physically and/or mentally disabled.
- People with disabilities are the largest unemployed sector.
- More than 20 million people in the United States have at least one family member with disabilities.
- About 54 million people have a physical or mental disability.
- Of the more than 50 million who report a disability, 44 million are not considered severe.
- In September, 2014 there were 29,701 persons with disabilities permanently employed.
- There are 60% of people with non-severe disabilities between the ages of 25 and 64 live independently. That compares to 68% of people with no disabilities of the same age group. Likewise, it compares to 50% of the people with severe disabilities.
Adults Learning Disabilites
Links to Assistance
- disAbility Solutions for Independent Living, Inc. Home
- Disability Resource Agency for Independent Living - DRAIL
- Independent Living Links in Disability Resources - Overview of Links for People with Disabilities
Independent Living Links in Disability Resources - Overview of Links for People with Disabilities. Links gathered by The Independent Living Institute
- National Council on Independent Living —
- Get Started - Funding for People with Disabilities: A Resource List
- Adult Education and People with Disabilities
Facts, federal research, state-run sites, and additional links for helping people with disabilities in adult education.
- Job Accommodation Network
- Disability.gov - Welcome to Disability.gov, the federal government website that provides quick acces
As Independent as Possible
Why Go to All This Trouble?
There is not an animal on earth that stays with his parent--as a child--for his entire life. Every creature eventually grows up and moves on to establish their own life and make their own choices. In people, it gives a sense of accomplishment. It means they've finally grown up and become mature enough to be independent and make their own choices. Why should it be any different for a person with disabilities?
Yes, I am aware that there are people who are so severely disabled they are unable to care for themselves. This article is for the non-severe. The majority of people with disabilities could live independent and fulfilled lives if they knew where to get the resources and the steps to take.
Every person has the right to be proud of themselves. They should be able to look back on what they've accomplished and see their own growth. They deserve to have their loved ones cheering for them.
It isn't rocket science. We as human beings like power. The greatest gift you can give someone is empowerment. When we empower someone, we open new worlds and possibilities for them. The fastest way to cripple someone emotionally is to take away their power.
What Skills Will the Adult Need?
As the adult with special needs is transitioning into living away from the family, we must look at the skills he or she will need to be successful. Group homes vary in how much assistance is given to the individual. Here are some things to consider when choosing the best facility for your loved one.
Career Planning--Assuming he or she is able to be employed, skills will be needed. If the individual is able to work, where will he work? What transportation will be necessary? How much assistance will he need?
Communication--Everyone communicates in some way. No matter what method we use, we find ways of making our needs known. Does this individual use verbal communication? Does he use a communication device? What about in an emergency? Can he notify someone? Will a 24-hour monitor need to be installed in his room?
Daily Living--There are certain daily activities we do to care for ourselves. Sometimes we are able to do the tasks independently. Other times we need assistance. Will this individual need assistance with cooking and cleaning?
Money Management--If the individual possesses the skills to manage his own money, this should be allowed and encouraged. If not, then a representative should be appointed to manage the money. Does he need someone to pay his bills and give him an allowance?
Self Care--Our bodies have certain needs that must be met daily. Is this individual able to brush his own teeth? Can he bathe and dress himself? Can he make appropriate decisions about food choices?
Attitude--Believe it or not, attitude is a skill level and can be learned. A popular saying today is "He has an attitude." Everyone has 'an attitude'. What type of attitude is the question. To socialize or live with others, we need to have a good attitude. Does this individual have a good attitude? Will he or she need to be taught the appropriate way to speak to others?
Responsibility--Independent living requires some responsibility. Is this individual able to accept those responsibilities? Will he need a visual schedule to remind him? Will he need a verbal reminder?
Whether the individual has these skills or needs to be taught, does not affect the decision about independent living. These are just things that should be considered when making the decision about living arrangements. Just because a person can't remember all the steps for getting dressed, doesn't mean he can't live independently. There just needs to be some type of modification for him. For instance, a check sheet with a list of tasks can help him remember all the things he must do before leaving his room or house. Whatever allows the person to be as independent as possible should be considered.
Adults Down Syndrome
Working with the Right Tools
Should They Work
Should People with Disabilities Work for a Paycheck?
Do you know someone who has a difficult time making decisions? Maybe they seem awkward in social settings. Perhaps they don't have confidence in themselves. Do they always seem to be asking someone's opinion?
Try this experiment. The next time a decision has to be made, let him or her know it is completely up to them. Then watch their face. You might have to coax them a while for a decision. It doesn't have to be anything big. Where are we going to dinner? What game do we play?
Now here is the kicker. You must be willing to stick to the decision made. If someone else in the group says "Oh, I don't want to go there" the experiment will fail. So know ahead of time, that you might not be completely happy with the decision, but in the end your loved one will grow from the experience of making the decision.
What types of housing arrangements are available for adults with special needs?
- Independent Living--There are individuals with disabilities who have the cognitive ability to live alone. They might have physical limitations, however, if they understand those limitations and the house is modified to meet those limitations, they can be successful living alone.
- Residential or Assisted Living--Most of these houses have 24-hour nursing assistance. Basically, the resident has a room that belongs to him or her allowing them to be 'alone' any time they wish. There are always medical personnel on the premises if needed.
- Group Homes--Group homes are usually, set up with like or similar disabilities. One home might be for individuals with developmental delays. Another might be for individuals with brain injuries. Still another might be for those who have a muscular disability. There are some set up for co-existing disabilities.
- Nursing Homes--Nursing homes for designed for 24-hour nursing care for individuals unable to care for themselves physically or mentally.
Acceptance in the Community
Steps to Independence
The family of individuals with disabilities--both children and adults--needs to examine possible living arrangements for the individual.
- Use the list of Skills Needed in this article to evaluate the needs of the individual.
- If necessary consider a professional evaluation.
- Use the links in this article to search for services that will meet the needs of the individual.
- Be specific when talking to the people at potential placements. Tell them of every need the individual has.
- Once a facility has been found, work with them after placement. Don't be too critical of their policies. They are doing what is best for the adult with special needs.
- Stay in touch with your loved one and the facility. Make them part of your extended family.
Why Encourage Independent Living
Adults with disabilities have the same desires as the rest of the population. They want to grow, develop skills, become independent, be proud of themselves, and respect. Every person has the right to live as independently as possible. Every parent has the right to know that when their time on earth is done, his or her child will be cared for.
It might not be living like you or I live. There is a placement that will help the adult become as independent as he or she can possibly be. It is a matter of finding the right one. There are many more resources, but please use the links in this article to begin your research. Above all, please don't give up. Your loved one and the family needs the security of knowing the individual with disabilities will be care for.