Raising a child certainly has its bright and happy moments for parents, but raising a child with special needs comes with its own set of challenges. As our son, Peter, grew into his teen years, there came to be more and more tension between him and his sister and brother. He also went through a time when he grew more defiant and aggressive toward us. We began to be concerned about what kind of situation would be best for Peter as well as for our family once he finished school.
That is why we are so grateful that organizations such as LifeWorks exist. LifeWorks provides the kind of structure, supervision, and care that works best for someone who has needs like Peter’s. Being able to move into a group home was really a positive thing in Peter’s life. I think that part of it was that he didn’t have his parents constantly looking over his shoulder and so often telling him, “No, you mustn’t do that!”
If he would have stayed at home with us, he always would have in some ways just remained our little boy. But by being at LifeWorks, he has had the opportunity to live as a young man and experience the world on his own terms, not ours.
He still always has someone supervising him, which he will always need, but it is no longer his family doing it. He also has a job to go to, which, being the very social person he is, he really enjoys—so much so that in the past he had gotten reprimanded for talking too much to friends of his who came into the workshop rather than tending to task. He has also gotten to make some money for himself at his job—never all that much, but then, it isn’t the amount that matters.
What matters is that he gets to have his own room, shoulder some of his own responsibilities, and make some of his own choices—just like anyone else. He has made friends at his house and at the workshop, and he gets to attend all sorts of activities. The best way to sum this up is to say that LifeWorks enables Peter to enjoy his life.
One nice part about Peter’s particular situation is that, by his being in Fort Dodge, we get to have him come to our house every Sunday to have lunch with us. But you know, by 3:30 Sunday afternoon, he’s always ready to go home—his home, because that’s what LifeWorks is for Peter: home—a home that enriches his life every single day.
Date Written March 2014