We began with one young man named Nicky in 2012.
Nicky was not progressing in his residential placement, and his parents were ready for that to change. The school district was supportive and suggested that they look at other placements – but Nicky was already nearly 20. In 2 years, he would be aging out and have to make yet another change.
Why not put him into his adult situation 2 years early, with public school support and collaboration with the residential and day agencies that the parents were looking at?
But wait; they want Shared Living, Day Hab, Employment training & Community Integration. For one of the most severely impacted, behaviorally challenging kids in the State – one that all but one residential placement had rejected as too challenging just 5 years before.
At this point, most teams would throw up their hands and “gently discourage” the family from thinking this was possible. Not only would the DESE and DDS never go for it, it would probably be an utter failure and Nicky would end up in a far worse situation.
Flash forward – 1 year of planning, 4 agencies, over 20 team members, over 60 community volunteers, several community businesses, and parents who never gave up on their dream…find out exactly how “terrible” things are.
This is not just the feel-good story of the year. We want families and school administrators to know that this CAN BE DONE. That no obstacles are insurmountable – not just in a case like this. It’s time that parents, agencies, funding sources and school systems begin thinking outside the traditional thought and planning processes, and create change with collaborative thinking, resource sharing, and an eye to success. Bring down the walls of “it just isn’t done that way.” Create new ways. Let us inspire your thinking just as we inspire your hearts.