By: Carole Norman Scott
My husband and I just took our son Ben for an overnight outing last Thursday (10/20/11). Before we got him though, we visited a facility for handicapped adults in Springdale, AR that we had not known about previously. It was really nice. There were three units that each housed ten people…along with two staff members. Each client had their own private bedroom, and then two shared a bathroom…kind of like a “jack & jill” arrangement. There was a kitchen that all the clients had access to, and training was provided in how to prepare certain foods. There was a resident cat…a BIG yellow beauty that was everyone’s “favorite!” From 8:30 to 2:30 each day, the clients went to a sheltered workshop-type setting and had jobs they performed there. Walmart also had a training area where the clients sorted articles for them. All in all, it was a very “homey” looking place, and there was much about it that we thought Ben would enjoy and feel comfortable in.
How does all this really affect our son, Ben though? Ben still has a few behavior issues periodically at age 49…not often, but enough to consider how he would fit into a new setting. He now lives in a unit that houses thirty men. It can get pretty chaotic from time to time (due to other clients periodic upsets too), and the noise bothers him. However, the staff knows Ben well, and it took several years for them to get acquainted with his idiosyncrasies, SO, moving him would be a MAJOR issue. Also, when he has too many changes, or commands, he tends to get quite anxious. What to do? Would the unit with less people help keep him calm? OR, would the move upset him so, that his behavior would escalate? Who knows? Ben isn’t telling! Oh…to have him be able to share his heart and mind! Oh…to be able to keep him from distress! It IS a puzzlement of giant proportions! After 45 years (he was diagnosed when he was four)…we are no closer to knowing what IS the best thing to do! We know only to go to the Lord, and ask HIS wisdom and intervention…HIS help in showing us by HIS guidance, and by how things “fall into place!”
Our overnight visit with Ben turned out GREAT! We took him to a hotel, and then out to eat at Chili’s! When asked what he wanted to eat, he said, “Chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn-on-the-cob!” So, that was what he got, and he finished it in no time. He LOVES the music there, the TV’s being on, and the atmosphere of watching food being brought to the tables, etc. Then, we went shopping at T. J. Maxx, and there are many beautiful things there…for the holidays, and such! They also play music, and Ben had a BIG smile on his face…like he was in the “heavenlies!” We watched the World Series baseball game that evening…which was topped off with a Hostess cupcake for dessert. Boy! Did his eyes light up when he saw that! I told my husband that a Hostess cupcake is one thing that is as good now as it was when I was a little girl 65 years ago, so we enjoyed one too!
The next morning, we took Ben to Denny’s and he had what he requested (the Grand Slam)…2 big pancakes, 2 sausages, 2 pieces of bacon, and 2 scrambled eggs…AND orange juice! He was in “hog heaven” (especially since we were in Arkansas)–HA! We then took him back to his living unit and were shown that they had installed a brand new “flat-screen” TV in his private room there…along with a lounge chair that reclines. How neat is that? SO…he fares very well where he lives now. SO, much prayer will go into any change for Ben! We only want the best for him. We already know that he gets excellent attention and medical care where he is. The other facility is probably good too, but is “unknown” to us! There are ALWAYS hard decisions with a child that suffers from autism…no matter what their age!
We are SO blessed that we can visit Ben there, and he can come home for visits too! Thankfully, for one who is not fond of “change”…he “goes with the flow” just GREAT either way! He liked sleeping on the divan that made into a bed in the living room of our hotel suite (we had a separate bedroom). He slept ALL NIGHT long, and thoroughly enjoyed the outing. I say “PRAISE THE LORD,” and feel assured that HE will show us in HIS timing what the next step (if any) is best for Ben.