A Decision To Make

A Decision To Make

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A Decision To Make

What do you do if there is a difficult decision to make, and this decision will effect your entire family and even what people think of you? Add the fact that no matter what decision you make, it will feel like a mistake. These are the things I am dealing with when trying to decide whether or not to put my son in a group home.

My son is nine years old and suffers from Autism, Cerebral Palsy, and mental retardation.He was born prematurely and critically ill. Though odds were very much against him, he made it. A year later, after his first MRI, we first heard the words Cerebral Palsy. By the age of two I knew he was Autistic but we could not get a diagnosis until he was seven. He was put on medication to help his self-abusive behaviors and self-stimulation.

Self-stimulation is a behavior that my son enjoys and can feel, but I do not care for them. My son would bang his head continuously, slap himself, and vomit. It is hard to imagine enjoying these behaviors but he does, and I certainly do not. We do not go on trips or in public unless my husband and myself are present to help control his behavior and our two other children's behavior.

He has been known to bite and scratch strangers, steal food from other's plates while eating out, and pour drinks right on top of his head. My other children have no extra-curricular activities because I can not control him alone. He can be violent, to himself or others. On the other hand, he can be so sweet for a child who does not need hugs or kisses, though we give them anyway.

The strain of caring for him can be exhausting and the responsibility is tremendous. He knows no fear and has no concept for his own safety so he must be watched constantly. He will not perform any activities of daily living, so we bathe him, brush his teeth, dress him, and change his diapers. Every door in our home has a lock that he can't reach, except the front door, which has four.

Many people we have contact with mentioned group homes, but for a long time I refused to even consider it.

One day, as I was cleaning up vomit for the second time that day and after I changed the fifth dirty diaper of the day, I broke down, sobbing.

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I realized I had just yelled at my other two children because I was aggravated with my son's disabilities. I realized I always said no when they asked to go somewhere. I realized why they wanted to spend the night away from home as often as possible. They felt the strain,as well, and I was not helping.

I knew something had to be done, and soon. He was nine years old and exhibited the same exact behaviors he had when he was two. If he did not learn to be independent he would forever be a baby. I feel as if each month that passes, a small chance for him to be the best person he can be has passed, as well. Time is not on our side and as science tells us, the older we are, the harder it is to learn.

I figured out that WE were holding him back and not the other way around. He needed things we could not provide for him such as a constant routine. With two other children nothing could be constant, not enough for him to feel comfortable. Out of our home he will do things that I can not make him do at home. He craves the routine of school and does remarkably well, if his schedule is not altered in any way.

An institution for him was out of the question which left group homes. Group homes do have their drawbacks, especially in our case. First, because of his young age an appropriate home would be at least a hundred miles away. I would always be worried about his safety and happiness . Next, is the overwhelming guilt I would feel for placing him among strangers, though qualified. I would feel as if I had abandoned him, though quite the contrary. Also, the jealousy I would feel because another person were caring for my son and doing a better job than I could.These negative things seem insurmountable, but when considering the alternative it brings thing into perspective.

A group home has very few people in the home which makes one on one time excellent.
There is usually more than one person on duty at a time. They are paid to work in shifts so that someone can be awake constantly to ensure the safety of the residents. He can begin to learn how to live and do basic things for himself. He would be in a regular neighborhood, and he would go on outings regularly. My other children would benefit, as well. They would be able to participate in sports, go more places, and have a better mother.

Everyone that knows my son believes that a group home would be a great step in the right direction for his future. The weight of my children's futures rest upon my shoulders and I can't take the responsibility lightly. I have to give my disbabled son a chance to grow into a productive member of society, as with my other children. Being disbabled does not make time stop and he will grow to be a man one day. The question I must face is whether or not it is worth my son's future to keep him with us.

Considering a group home is similar to considering a boarding school for a child except this would be much more permenent. If he lives in a group home for a period of time and gets used to it, taking him out would completely destroy all progress made since arriving.Overnight visits are not suggested because it would mess up routine. In a sense, if I let my son go now I may never get him back but if I dont he will never grow into the best person he can be.

This will affect every member of my family, and every emotion felt will be shared. A decision of this magnitude is a heavy burden to bear and could shape all of my children's futures in some way. I dont know what the right answer is. What I do know is that this is the hardest decision I could ever have to make in my life.

No matter what I decide, I will be judged harshly, either for leaving my child or hindering his potential.

I will continue to ponder this issue, no matter what I choose. I will forever wonder if I made the right decision
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