Our Children Will Grow Up: What Happens When A Vulnerable Population Becomes Even More Vulnerable? — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

Our Children Will Grow Up: What Happens When A Vulnerable Population Becomes Even More Vulnerable?

by Gina


At the end of our lives, we again become vulnerable. Charged to those with hands we hope are gentle, hearts we hope are warm. Family we wish…if all goes well. But what about our children?

So many times we are focused on the now, as we should be, as we need to be…with the future in sight, out of reach, yet yearned for, it’s what we’re working towards. We plan strategies for helping our children become the most independent, productive members of society they’re capable of being. We tend to do this with the thoughts of our children as children, under the umbrella of our protection.

Elderly Woman in Thailand by Ronn Ashore via Flickr

Consider though: when our children are vulnerable children, soon to be vulnerable adults, what happens when they become the vulnerable elderly? The vulnerable elderly special needs adult? That’s XXVulnerable….what then?

What happens when I can no longer protect my son? What happens when I’m the vulnerable elderly? When he’s the middle-aged special needs adult, looking for care, needing someone to plan for him to become the XXVulnerable Elderly Adult? What happens then?

I’ve had the opportunity to be in one of the better long term care facilities I’ve seen in my short 39 years. The view through my eyes is crisper, my sight seeing further, my consideration for care, the elderly, compassion, empathy, humanity and despair deeper. Facilities such as these are scarce. The availability of these or others operating even better are saved for those mostly of wealth. The majority of the long term care, retirement or whatever-you’d-like-to-name-them facilities drowning in filth and lacking of all the care and concern we hope someone holds us with when we age.

So now, my planning for our son’s future is accelerating. And I have to be honest. It scares me.

What are your thoughts?

Email Author    |    Website About Gina

Gina St. Aubin is a mother of 3, one diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, PDD-NOS, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Landau-Kleffner Syndrome (a rare epileptic disorder causing verbal aphasia) . A former Victim's Advocate turned advocate for those with intellectual and physical challenges, Gina believes being a 'Special Parent' means to discover, embrace, educate, advocate, encourage, treasure and laugh.

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1 Kim October 20, 2011 at 11:29 am

Oh, I hadn’t even thought about an elderly Boy yet. The adult Boy, without me, is scary enough a thought. Thinking about him running amok (and afoul of the law) is the one thought that frightens me most. Will he be in control of himself? Can he live independently? Will he remain out of jail? Who will love him?

I have no answers. I am 54, and he is sixteen. He will have decades without me there, guiding him, talking him down. We’re starting to work on his transition plan, and I’m sure we can negotiate living arrangements and further education and training – but his poor impulse control and rage issues remain a concern for me…and I won’t be around to help him calm down.

He’s already said that I can’t die – that’s the plan I’m going with right now.

2 Gina October 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Yes, the question of “who will love him”. Because with love and understanding, many times comes patience….and that might be what our kiddos will need the most of now and in the future.

3 Kathleen Basi October 20, 2011 at 11:42 am

I have heard really good things about l’Arche communities. I hope that we will be able to move Julianna into something like that in adulthood. But we also have a special needs trust, and lots of family members who will be called upon to act on her behalf when and if we no longer can: all her cousins and siblings.

4 Gina October 20, 2011 at 12:41 pm

It sounds like you have a good plan and an amazing circle of family that you can depend on. The trust is huge too. I’ve heard of good communities but didn’t know what their names were. Good to know.

5 kadiera October 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm

When my mother was working on her masters in social work about 15 years ago, she did her practicum for a small non-profit that specialized in working with “older” special needs adults. Most were in their 40’s, with varying diagnoses. The agency matched each of them with a pair more typical folks from a local senior center – mentoring of sorts – and gave each little trio money to go to movies and did other things to get them out and about. The agency also sponsored monthly outings and helped families work through issues of finding appropriate care for the clients and did other things along those lines. I wonder if there are organizations like this in other places?

6 Gina October 20, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Good question. Sounds like a good option for some people with special needs….I think overall, there’s more investigating to be done on this front! Thanks Kadiera.

7 Lisamarie October 21, 2011 at 2:27 pm

You are right to be concerned about the future and I encourage you to keep it in the back of your mind. There are so many hurdles and blessed days for you to get through that are more demanding of your energy. Having a legal plan in place in case something were to happen to you and your husband is a good idea.

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