One of the worst feelings I’ve seen a special need’s parent go through is the thought of one day having to put their child in an institution…the conversation no parent ever wants to have about their child…

I often read blogs about subjects such as autism and other learning disabilities and the author trying to avoid the topic of “The Day I’ll Have to Put My Child In an Institution” at all costs. I get it. No one ever wants to see their child have to go through that. Whether it be an institution, or even a group home, when our children are born, we live in the hope that, through our care and support over the years that they will one day grow up to follow their dreams.

For me, the word institution was introduced when I was just a toddler. When I was two and a half, I was completely nonverbal. When I was four, I was diagnosed with autism. Although no doctor would ever say that this would happen to me, they would tell my parents that it’s happened to others on the spectrum who were more severely affected. As I grew up, my parents saw more and more hope that I would live a life that would lead to a full-time job, living independently and hopefully one day, getting married and having kids.

The reasons for having to put their child in an institution have varied from not being able to support the day-to-day finances and activities of their child to having their child grow up and be a physical harm to themselves, their family and the people around them. I’ve seen the out-of-pocket costs, and I’ve seen the struggles that these family members have endured. Whenever this happens I can see and feel the pain that they are having to process. It’s heartbreaking.

So what do you do?

My main piece of advice always remains the same. We’re all human and each one of our lives is precious. It’s true what they say that you really never know the inner struggles that go on in people but you also at times don’t get to see the joys that are there either. Whether you are a parent, caregiver, sibling, friend, or co-worker, we’ve all been through challenges in our lives. NEVER try to go through this situation alone. The important thing to remember is life goes on and no matter how many hours you put into therapies, supports and services you still may not be able to get to that situation to avoid this word.

This doesn’t mean you ever give up fighting for your child. That’s the fire we need in our community right now. Because you know what? We will NEVER give up on our loved ones. That means we should also never give up working with our legislators and our local organizations to make them understand the need for advancements in therapies and supports. There are still so many unanswered questions out there in the world we need to solve.

I hope for those families out there reading this that, if this is a situation is something you are going through right now, or that you have ever thought about that you will take time to breathe and be with your loved ones. The thing that connects us in this world is the love we have for those people in our lives so when this day comes, make sure you always know you’re not alone. I’ve seen many people in our community endure this, and all of them have made it out the other end.

We will find the answers because we are strong. Until then, love unconditionally, follow your journey as it comes, and never stops doing exactly what your gut tells you to do. If you do all of this, no matter how painful, this may be, we’ll get through it together.

There is a plan and a purpose, a value