Sunday, April 06, 2014

Let Go; Let them Grow

My post focusing on the work our agency does to support people, is about a parent's perspective this week and I am using an excerpts from interview that I did with Lynda Beedham, mom to Eric, several years ago.

The title of this post, "Let Go; Let them Grow," comes from advice Lynda gave, in an article she wrote for other parents.

In the mid nineties, Lynda had applied to every service provider in southern Ontario, but Eric found a home with Christian Horizons, in a process Lynda describes as, "The luck of the draw."

At the time, the Beedhams were in desperate crisis--"Eric just needed to be out of the home.We didn't have a choice," Lynda explains, "He was totally miserable--teenage angst--anxiety--it was horrible for him and for us."

Eric moved into his new home on May 1, 2001, after a three month transition. Lynda had laid the groundwork by saying things to Eric like, "When you grow up and have a house of your own..." building expectation in him and themselves that he would be living elsewhere, not with his family, when he was an adult.

When he first moved, Lynda remembers one of the staff referring to him going back to visit his parents, as, "Going to Eleanor Circle," so that "home" remained his new home. Lynda was impressed that the same staff's first sentences were to Eric welcoming him and telling him about his rights. The effect of this was that Lynda realized that, "This is about him, not me."

Lynda had made a glossary of Eric's signs and signals, but also supported the staff by being an interpreter at first. Slowly her relationship changed for the good with Eric. She now has a role in his life as the bearer of all good things. She can spoil him and send him back home!

Her relationship with the staff is important. She focuses on thinking, not doing, working with staff on strategies and problem solving.

Although Lynda and her husband Brian did not deliberately choose Christian Horizons as the service provider for their son, they are glad that it is. "Because you are part of the faith based community, your staff reflect these values," says Lynda. She has shared her experience with other families and is a strong ambassador for the agency.

Lynda's biggest fear had been that Eric's life would change when she died, "It was obvious that he would need support forever," she says. But Lynda took the advice she give to other parents, 'Let them go; let them grow."

Lynda continues to be a resource for the team that supports Eric. She is also a member of an Ethical Review Team and of the Faith and Culture Inclusion Network.In 2008 she received Autism Ontario's "Advocacy" Award, presented by the Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

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