The state of Illinois has long been behind in serving people with disabilities. A recent article by Karen Meyers titled “Illinois Family Choosing Group Homes Over Institutions” highlights the complex issues of transitioning adults with disabilities from institutions to group homes.
Four years ago Illinois had one of the highest rates of institutionalization of people with disabilities, but recently things have changed. The article states “Governor Quinn signed the Rebalancing Initiative Act, moving people with developmental disabilities into community-based settings.” Meyers shows that the transition is not always easy for the families of people of disabilities by telling the story of Lovey’s experience moving from an institution into a group home.
As a person with disabilities I have mixed feelings. My family and I have never had to deal with the issues of institution or group homes. However, I have received a variety of disability support services throughout my life. I agree that Illinois should encourage community-based living options for individuals who want that choice. I believe that we never know what a person can achieve until they are given the opportunity to try. Often people make assumptions about what individuals with disabilities can and can not accomplish without giving them the opportunity to show what they are capable of.
People with disabilities can be similar, but they are not the same. I have a disability but there is not a manual that says what I can and cannot do. For example, I didn’t know or think I could go to college because of my disabilities, and neither did my parents. For me finding what work best was a lot of trail and error.
That being said, I totally understand where Lovey’s mom was coming from, because her daughter was safe and well looked after in the institution where she spent over 20 years. Even after the mother died, Lovey’s sisters did not know whether a group home would be right choice for her. I think, like Lovey’s family, you have to be open to new possibilities and also hitting road bumps in order to figure out what is right for you.
In my opinion Governor Quinn encouraging community based living is a good thing because it gives people options and freedom of choice. However, I think for some individuals and their family institutions are the best option. I think nobody knows the perfect answer, because everyone is different.
What are you thoughts and experiences?
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About the Author:
Sarah Armour is the Business Assistant at jjslist.com. She enjoys managing the website, bookkeeping, coordinating the Disability-Awareness Trainings and organizing the Hop on the Bus to Independence Program. She graduated from Loras College in Dubuque, IA, in 2008 with a BA in Sociology. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.