The physical care needs of individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) tend to grow as they get older. Not only does it require more strength to aid these individuals in their activities of daily living, but their conditions also become more complicated and severe with age. Some people with I/DD will require 24-hour care in some capacity as they reach adulthood.
This has been the case for the McDowell family. Danny and Drew McDowell both have Autism (along with other diagnoses), and they both need constant care for their changing and progressing needs. Their mom and dad, Jill and Stacy McDowell, moved Danny and Drew into the Indian Creek Foundation’s Residential Program as they completed their school years. Jill says that with the care her boys receive here, she can focus on being a full-time mom.
A Hard Decision, But Definitely the Right One
The McDowells found a place for Danny at Indian Creek when he was 21 and his school program ended. A spot opened up for Drew a few years later, and the family took advantage of that opportunity. Jill said that it was difficult to move Drew out of their home and into the residential program before he turned 21, but it was ultimately the right decision.
Both Danny and Drew need 24-hour care, which is something that most families simply aren’t equipped to manage on their own. Once her sons were grown, Jill knew that she would never have the physical ability or energy to care for their every need. So while it was very hard to move the boys into a residential program, the resources that came with that program would benefit their entire family.
Now Danny and Drew live in two different houses in the Residential Program where they receive superior care in accordance with their individual needs. The best part is that Jill is still every bit the mom she was when they were growing up. In fact, she may even be better because she can rely on the Indian Creek staff to make sure her boys are safe and healthy at all times.
Living Apart, As Close as Ever
Jill spends a few days a week with each of her sons. She will pick up either Drew or Danny from his house late in the morning and head out to do that son’s preferred activities. Both boys enjoy going to their parents’ house to hang out or spending time running errands with Jill. Sometimes they go out for full day trips, like to visit family in New Jersey, enjoy a day at the beach, or to see fireworks.
Jill works closely with their Program Supervisors to manage scheduling, discuss health concerns, and arrange medical care. She said the staff members are wonderful to work with, and that she can see how much they genuinely care for her kids’ well-being. In fact, the house Supervisors thought that it would be nice for the brothers to spend more time together and arranged for them to have dinner every few weeks. Jill appreciates that they get this social time, and that the staff took it upon themselves to facilitate it.
When Jill spoke about how she relies on the staff, she said, “My job is being mom to Danny and Drew. I get paid in laughs and smiles. I am a healthier mom because an attentive staff provides 24/7 care for my adult sons who need constant supervision. I appreciate that the caregivers who work here choose this work and have the heart to help people with special needs.”
Jill mentioned that she is particularly grateful for Drew’s staff. Drew has epilepsy in addition to Autism, and a fall from a seizure can be very dangerous. His staff is there to keep him safe and prevent further complications. She is amazed at how much they genuinely care for their residents, and she is very happy that the staff of Indian Creek is willing to help her family.
We are Fortunate to Have Indian Creek and Their Staff
Jill knows that not every family has ready access to a residential program like Indian Creek Foundation. She considers her family to be very fortunate in that both of her boys are living safe and happy lives with compassionate support and supervision. She would encourage families of younger kids and teens with growing care needs to be proactive in planning for the future. It is not natural or sustainable for parents to provide 24/7 care to their grown children. Families can enjoy the best part of each other when the care aspect is being managed by qualified professionals.
Finally, Jill advises younger parents to trust their instincts. Every situation is different, but every single child needs an advocate. Parents can be a voice for their children, especially when those children can’t speak for themselves. Parents who trust their instincts and speak up for what their child needs can make all the difference in their child’s ability to live a full and thriving life.