by Ann Gluf, Consumer Affairs Specialist – IDD - Southern Region
A place to work, things to do, places to go and a safe comfortable place to live surrounded by friends and family. We all strive for these. Then, add being born with Down syndrome, one of the leading causes of intellectual disability. In the United States, 400,000 people are born with Down syndrome: 1 in 691 babies.
My son Eric (now 23 years of age) was born with Down syndrome. He lives at home with his family and attends Cabarrus Vocational Opportunities four days a week. Eric gets out in the community with his direct support worker. He is taking care of his banking, his shopping and enjoying his day off by heading to the bowling alley. His paid supports are funded through the NC Innovations Waiver managed by Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions. These supports have made a wonderful difference in his life. One of his favorite things to do, on his day off, is to go to the Sports Center, exercise and enjoy talking with folks in the community.
Eric attended school through age 20 and was part of a small, self-contained setting. He was fortunate to have an exceptional high school teacher and an involved school community. His senior prom was made memorable due to the efforts of his teacher. Eric’s engaging personality put him in the middle of a group of senior girls during lunch each day at school. It was dream for any teenage boy.
Due to the natural supports of family and the relationships he developed at school, Eric’s high school experience was more the same than different. Paid supports enhance the natural supports he receives from family and community connections. At age 23, he is moving about the community experiencing life in much the same way as his brothers (age 18 and 25). Eric’s life is more the same than different.
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