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My Daughter With Down Syndrome Wants to Move Out of the House

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Editor's Note

This story has been published with permission from the author’s daughter.

We’re in a new phase of life here in the Ellingson-Spring household.

Angela will be 22 next month. Her older brothers had moved out by this age, and she has older friends in their mid 20’s who have moved out into supported living situations. Angela is eager to join their ranks. She has been in a career development program since November, and we have been telling her that she has to finish that program before we can talk about her moving out. That seemed forever away. And yet, it is coming up in just a couple of months!

I’m so proud of Angela! She has come a long way the last two years. She continues to learn skills and improve on old ones. She takes disability transportation to her program every day. She calls me to check in at key times. She knows what she wants most of the time and is learning to advocate for herself to get it. Well, that may include taking a bottle of pop from a store when she doesn’t have money to pay for it, because…well…she wanted it. This as a lesson for Angela about not stealing, and a lesson for the store employees — who saw it — on how you don’t let someone steal just because they have Down syndrome.

Moving an adult who has a disability into supported housing is a long process. Thankfully some of the things — like funding sources — are already in place. Still, we need to meet with agencies to find one that offers the level of supports Angela needs, in addition to having staff we are comfortable working with. Once we find the right fit, Angela will be placed on a waiting list. We’re told the average wait in our area is six to nine months.

In Minnesota, because of the Olmstead Act, there are lots of different housing options for people who have cognitive disabilities. The level of supervision needed can be provided in a variety of settings. For those who are most independent, there are apartments and townhouses with staff just doing “check ins” and providing transportation. For those who need more support, there are apartments where the level of supervision is very customizable, provided the individual can spend some time unsupervised. Electronic services have come a long way, and staff can be notified if a client isn’t out of bed by a certain time, or hasn’t taken medications by a specific time, etc. For those who need 24 hour supervision, there are group homes. In our area, there are social activities galore, and an adult like Angela should have a very rich social life. I think that is the part Angela is most excited about, to do her own things without Mom tagging along or doing the driving!

How about the mom and dad? How are we handling this phase? Dean says he is not ready to see his little girl move out, but that he never will be. I think I’m doing OK, and I will continue to be fine with it all. Until moving day comes. That day I will just want to tuck my girl under my wings and keep her in the nest.

Follow this journey at Garden of Eagan.

Originally published: May 17, 2018
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