It is essential to understand that adults with cerebral palsy have the same goals and desires as everyone else: they want to be independent, valued members of the local community. Instead of being seen for their disability, they want to be seen as individuals who have something to contribute. These goals can be a challenge to achieve, especially in communities where there aren’t a lot of opportunities to participate. Independent living, community engagement opportunities, and a social support network are key to helping those with developmental disabilities to achieve their personal goals.
Becoming an Adult
Making the transition from carefree high school student to responsible adult is difficult for any young person. However, adults with cerebral palsy have other obstacles that they have to address. Getting a job, going to college, moving into an apartment – not all of these common milestones may be possible for everyone with developmental disabilities. Independent living is one of the most commonly expressed desires of young adults with cerebral palsy and autism. Depending on other health issues and situations, staying with parents, siblings, and other family members might be the only option.
Moving into adulthood means having to learn and manage new rules, laws, and requirements in order to be truly considered an independent adult. Having a social support network and participating in community engagement opportunities can help adults with cerebral palsy to find new ways to gain their independence. Navigating the challenges of independent living can be difficult, particularly if there are no support services in the local area. Home health and attendant care, transportation, education and work, and vocational services can all be helpful to provide individuals with developmental disabilities options to make their own way in the world.
Engaging with Others
Learning how to make friends and expand one’s social circle is another milestone into becoming an adult. High school graduates are thrust into dormitory living on campus or straight into the workforce, depending on their chosen path and opportunities. Adults with cerebral palsy are in a similar situation, which will play out in different ways depending on whether they go to secondary school, get a job, or become involved in other vocational programs. In the midst of all these options and opportunities, depending on the abilities and health of the individual, is the chance to make workplace, school, or community friendships.
In addition to these potential situations for developing friendships, All Friends Network is a social support network that focuses on creating community engagement opportunities, social event situations, and other interactive programs to help adults with cerebral palsy and autism to make friends. Resources, support services, and a safe and secure AFN Live-LINK app are all available to help our members expand their horizons and meet others who live with similar backgrounds and situations. Finding people that you can talk to who understand your point of view is essential and, in many cases, can be very encouraging for those who are anxious to try independent living.
Support is Available
If you are a young adult who is struggling with the idea of striking out on your own and leading a fulfilling and independent life, you are not alone. There are many programs available now that are designed to provide support, resources, and information to help you make the transition from high school student living at home to independent living as a young adult. If you have always wanted to do things on your own terms and be able to accomplish your goals as much as possible without help, there are programs that can help.
Living independently starts by engaging with others, discussing your needs, and learning how to communicate effectively your wants, needs, and desires. Adults with cerebral palsy no longer need to stay at home with their parents or siblings for the rest of their lives. All Friends Network is here to encourage you, provide methods for communicating and engaging with others, and offer opportunities to participate in social activities with other individuals who have cerebral palsy, autism, and other developmental disabilities. If you would like to learn more about our program, services, and upcoming events, give us a call at 941-587-7172.