After reading a few recent posts here, I just wanted to say something about the topics of instutions and group homes. I'm an autism behavioral therapist, working with several children on the spectrum while pursuing a degree in special education. I also have a part time job working at a group home with a man who has autism who is in his mid 40's. I love the people I work with, and I would do anything to ensure their saftey and to help them learn to cope with their behaviors. I'm writing this to stress that institutions at times may be necessary, but they are not necessarily what many assume them to be.
In past years many states have moved to close down state facilities (or instiutions.) While instutions have been given a bad name, it is important to remember that most of these issues took place decades ago, in the 70's and earlier. It's also necessary to remember that only a fraction of institutions have had issues with residents being abuse or neglect. There are very strict regulations that govern institutions today regarding treatment for behavioral issues, nutrition issues and length of stay (most institutions have a goal of community reinvolvement for residents within 90 days.)
In the fall I was placed at a school located inside a mental helath institution for several weeks as part of a practicum placement for the special education program. The children there obviously had severe behavioral issues, and were there to learn how to cope with these issues. The teachers and staff at the institution did a great job working with these children, and everything they did was to help them learn to better function in the community. While most of these children were on medication, it was necessary as they were a danger to themsevles and others on a daily basis.
I'd also like to state that group homes and residential based care facilities (RBCF) are a completely separate entity from institutions. The same goes for group homes as for institutions-not all are alike. While some have had issues with neglect and abuse, most HAVE NOT. Again, there are regulations regarding everything, and training for workers at most group homes is extensive. Many group homes strive for their residents to learn how to live independently with as little as support as possible.
It's important to realize the only way to know what's right for your loved one is to be sure that you do your research. Ask lots and lots of questions and ask to visit the home on several occasions. No group home or facility should refuse to let you visit or answer questions unless there are confidentiality issues (and there's usually a way to get around those.)
I hope this helped to clarify a little for some of you. I think that everyone here is great, and I am amazed by the dedication you have to your children and sibilings. :)
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- Institutions and Group Homes