Guest post by Communitas Supportive Care Society
For most parents, having your children grow up and move out on their own is a natural, healthy transition. You parent to the best of your ability and hope that the investment you’ve made in your child will enable them to be independent.
But when your child lives with complex care needs, that transition seems impossible. It is for parents like these that Communitas Supportive Care Society was founded in 1974, providing residential care, day services, and respite for those living with developmental disabilities.
One of these services is Matthew’s House, a home away from home for youth aged 16-25 who live with complex care needs. The home provides a safe, loving, environment as youth make the transition from childhood to adulthood. For Christel and Alan Guenette, Matthew’s House was just what they needed for their son, Alexander.
Alexander lives with a very rare disorder that affects his whole being. He is unable to walk, he speaks on a very basic level, and is severely delayed in all ways. For his entire life, Alexander has been completely dependent on others for his care. Christel says she basically arranged her schedule – and that of her family – around Alexander’s needs. So when Alexander moved to Matthew’s House in January, that schedule became unnecessary, something Christel has had to get used to.
“Now, when we all leave, going in different directions, I have a momentary panic thinking ‘Who is staying home to watch Alexander?’ before I realize, it’s okay. He’s safe,” Christel explains.
Despite the challenges with which he lives, Alexander goes through life with a smile on his face and makes everyone he comes in contact with happier for having been with him. He has been a happy addition to Matthew’s House since he began receiving respite care here shortly after it opened in 2013. Alexander always had a sense that this was his second home and so moving here felt completely natural.
“At first, when we would visit, he made it very clear that he was going to stay there when we were going home,” Christel says. “Over time, he’s begun to miss us more but he’s never wavered in it being his home.”
Having Alexander move out of the family home has given his parents a chance to explore a new way of being. Not having to worry about their son has allowed them to travel more and experience deep rest. For Alexander, the move has given him the independence he has always craved.
As they reflect on this new phase in their life as parents, Christel and Alan are filled with gratitude.
“It has helped us settle into the role of parents of older children, like any other parents,” Christel reflects. “Matthew’s House has been an amazing support for us. It has made a big difference to our family.”