Your article "The Worlds of Autism" (Oct. 6) effectively delineates the obstacles faced by the Maloney family as they respond to the challenging needs of their two autistic sons. Because I have faced similar difficulties, I would like to convey to them that other positive and productive alternatives are available.
My son is an adult male who is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. During puberty, he also exhibited severe self-injurious behaviors that required frequent hospitalizations. Because of my persistent advocacy for services and support, my son was hospitalized for over a year at the renowned Kennedy Krieger Institute in Maryland, which provided intense, around-the-clock therapeutic care and comprehensive and interdisciplinary treatment.
During our exit debriefings and trainings, the medical team informed us that my son's return to our home was not a viable option. We were devastated by their recommendations because we had concerns similar to the Maloney family about the quality of group homes and other viable programs. Furthermore, we felt that he would be happier, safer and more productive at home. More important, we firmly believed that "there's no place like our home!"
Because we wanted my son to maintain the dramatic improvements he now exhibited, we investigated alternative living arrangements that would provide a safe, supportive and knowledgeable environment; empathetic encouragement; intense work on skill development and communication; opportunities for increased connection with the larger community; appropriate supports to achieve his highest level of independence, productivity, integration and self-worth; and sustained connections with his family and friends.
Our extensive research led us to ARC-Washington County, which has provided the advocacy, assurance, assistance and accessibility as promised by ARC residential director Kim Durham and group home team leader Marci Young. My son now lives in Emsworth, two blocks from my home; and he is happy, safe, connected and thriving. Because of ARC, my family now proudly extols that "there's no place like his home!"
First Published October 12, 2013 8:00 PM