HUD Tips for Parents and Guardians of People with Disabilities| Part 4: Are we having fun yet?
Disclaimer: I am NOT an expert on HUD. I am sharing my personal experience. Please check with your local HUD.gov office.
In the last three posts, I’ve been documenting our journey toward moving Aaron, our son with the label of autism and developmental disabilities, to a new county with his HUD “housing choice voucher program” and Medicaid Waiver.
Disability Ferris Wheel
Round and Round and Round we go. Where we’ll stop nobody knows….
WHY AM I SHARING THIS?
Social Workers and other professional solve problems all the time.
BUT PARENTS DO TOO!
We just don’t have the experience, contacts, resources and the emotional distance. So, even if we do have the intelligence and problem solving skills, it takes us longer to figure out the system and put it all together. If we are really considered part of the “team” our communication, resourcefulness and advice/concerns are respected and valued.
Our child’s need is often the first time we are trying to solve this particular issue. I often tell professionals, I had to become and expert on early childhood when my son was a baby and young child. Then there was school-age, and now that we are in the world of adults, I need to become an expert on all the adult life spaces where Aaron lives, works, recreates, and interacts. And this is why I’m learning about HUD, residential agencies, non-profit housing boards, county boards, Medicaid, Medicare funding for communication devices, apps on IPADS…. the list is endless.
I hope that makes sense, because the letter (below) shows some of the frustration, some of the complexity, and some of the layers of needs for just our one son. And, all of this happened in just one week.
And since our lives–and our child’s life–hangs in the balance, we don’t have months to resolve the issues.
They always say the best way to teach or to write is to “show, don’t tell.”
I want to “show” what a parent’s life might look like.
A social worker might be taking care of just the residential piece of a person’s life. A teacher, just the school piece. Those are complex, I’m not knocking their jobs.
A nurse or doctor works on the medical piece. A communication or speech therapist, or a dentist, or a transportation person, or even a residential staff or supervisor only handles one tiny piece of the daily life puzzle.
BUT PARENTS OR SELF-ADVOCATES HAVE TO DO IT ALL.
Often, I feel like we are all on a giant ferris wheel hoping to someday get off. But the wheel just keeps on turning…and all of our life is going past in a blur of meetings and appointments and we are getting nowhere. What do you think? Do you feel like you are stuck in the little car on the top of the ferris wheel and the guy below is purposely letting you swing back and forth with your legs dangling in the air. (Ugh, feeling the queezy feeling.)
Here’s my letter, from last week, to our day care staff person and our social worker. Note: I love these two people, so they are worth communicating with.
Letter to Aaron’s Adult Day Program Coordinator and his Support Coordinator.
Hi P___ and L___,
Tom (Aaron’s dad) spoke to the direct care staff person last night:
1. She hadn’t bothered to open Aaron’s backpack or daily communication notebook from the day program.
2. Tom told her to find the electric razor in the bag and see if she could figure out how to use it. Last week, Aaron had cuts on his face from the straight razor, so at the “meeting” everyone decided Aaron was to use an electric razor. (This is the same woman who used shaving cream and ruined the last electric razor, so we wanted to be specific.)
3. He also told her Aaron hadn’t had a BM since 1pm on Sat. (that’s over 55 hours) and asked her to consult the toileting chart in the communication notebook.
4. He told her to give him yogurt, some of the fiber stool softener, and try to put him on the toilet.
5. The direct care staff person listened, but we have no faith she will do anything.
We traded electric razors when we picked him up this weekend to see why the staff was having such a hard time using it. When Tom checked the electric razor he found out no one had emptied the hair inside the razor in ages and it was full, full, full. Apparently, these were women and they didn’t use razors, so didn’t know they had to be cleaned. Who knows how long … gross, gross…we won’t go there.
Once Tom cleaned it out, the razor worked great. Previously, Tom has showed staff how to clean it out, but apparently they were too lazy, didn’t care, forgot, or were incompetent.
Because of our continued frustration with the direct care staff, and other agency changes (like they went bankrupt) We hope to get Aaron out of his current agency’s care ASAP. I’m still aggravated his residential supervisor insisted on that meeting last week, and lied about Aaron losing his Medicaid Waiver, because he knew that would motivate us to come. But, basically he wasted our time and was on a power trip to show parents their place….
I found out each county has different timelines, paperwork and rules. I met with the “receiving county” counselor from HUD and she was wonderful. The meeting took about 2 hours, and I’ll talk about that in another post.
I dropped off Aaron’s current “nondriver” state ID at the HUD Warren Co. office. I also met with the Butler Co. HUD person and signed her paperwork for the extension. (probably drove close to 60 miles). Called current landlord and she FAXed the extension letter.
To: Sending County HUD and Receiving County HUD
Re: Aaron Ulrich, HUD extension
July 17, 2011
On behalf of my son, address, we are still in the process of moving to ___ county. We are requesting a 30 day notice to continue at current address in current county.
Mary E. Ulrich (guardian)
Apparently, we will need to repeat this process again next month, if things still aren’t completely in order.
HOUSE in Receiving County
Potential Good News:
The landlord (non-profit company we have had for over 13 years) is going to get back to me next week (person on vacation, of course) about buying a house in our new County.
We think they do a good job.
Aaron could use his HUD voucher and rent from them.
If they buy a house, Aaron would have to start paying rent by his 120 day limit or lose his voucher.
So (vacations or not, new babies, new staff, new carpet or appointments not withstanding) Aaron has to be in his new County by the 120 day limit.
I called and left a message with the director of the new county.
This would solve the problem of “parents owning the house.” You know those evil parents who always try to take advantage of their children:)
IF IF IF this works, we would then have to begin the process of moving Aaron’s Medicaid Waiver to a new company, and
Then we would need to get a roommate, and make sure, not only are the two guys compatible, but also their funding is compatible.
This is a positive bit of news. YEA, *crossing fingers*
Aaron’s Medical Doctor said to continue the same meds for another month. He said it didn’t look like the Zoloft was helping much, but it was such a small dose he thought we would just see how he did. Aaron was as calm as ever in the Dr’s office. It’s amazing, we try to explain his anxiety attacks and he’s sitting there with his leg crossed, playing with his baseball cards happy as can be. Aaron’s blood pressure was better than anyone’s in the room. Next appt. August 29. Aaron really likes the Doctor.
The speech therapist from last week’s appt. said she wasn’t going to recommend Aaron get an IPAD because she knew his medical card would not pay for it. She would, however, recommend the PECs program. My friend, Patty from the Arc gave me a copy of formal regulations which said Medicaid might pay for the device after Medicare turned it down.
After I passed on that information, a couple emails and calls, we told her we would buy the IPAD device, but we needed a speech therapist to tell us what apps… worked with Aaron.
She recommended a therapist who worked with adults. (Ironic that this is the same place Aaron went for speech therapy for over 15 years.)
I told her Easter Seals also had an IT guy who might be able to recommend some tech applications.
I’m thinking we’ll buy the device, and then if Aaron lives close to us, we can figure out how to get him to therapy (it will be a reasonable distance.) Aaron’s Doctor gave us a prescription for the speech therapy.
Thanks for all your help. Can’t wait to see what this week brings.
Ps. Penny, Would you send me a note to let me know if Aaron had a BM? I forgot to give you Aaron’s yogurt for the week, will you be shopping and able to pick some up? I think you have plenty of raisons and other fiber snacks.
Maybe we should start doing midnight dances or sacrifices to Mother Nature.
Please share your thoughts. Do you have any tips for housing for people with disabilities? Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all. (Helen Keller) Is it possible to look at this HUD journey, as a trip on the ferris wheel? The highs and lows are just part of the adventure? Have you ever felt stuck at the top?
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward,
All my best,
Please recommend ClimbingEveryMountain.com to any other family or professional caregivers. It’s a great way to show how much you care.
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