One in six children in the U.S. lives with a chronic disability. Some will be placed in a residential facility for long-term care. For parents of some children with cerebral palsy, this can be an excruciating and exhausting choice. I know this firsthand.
I made the decision to place my son Nicholas in a residential center when he was 10, although he didn’t move in until he was 12. By sharing my story and details on how the decision came about, I hope to help parents who may find themselves in the same situation.
Nicholas developed cerebral palsy as an infant as a complication of a heart defect. Every medical doctor told me they “were cautiously optimistic” that he would one day walk and talk. Of course, I wanted to think this would be true. I started him in a preschool program that served both typical and special needs toddlers, thinking this would give him the best incentive to overcome his challenges.
When Nicholas was six, I was a member of a counsel at our county Developmental Disabilities Services Organization. A mother there told us how she had placed her older school-age daughter in a residential program in another state. I was horrified. I could not – would not – even think about that as a possibility.