Integrated Living Opportunities: Building Long Term Communities for Individuals with Special Needs

 August 7, 2015
Posted by M&LAdmin4

Integrated Living Opportunities: Building Long Term Communities for Individuals with Special Needs

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Making the decision to help your family member with special needs achieve independent living is not an easy task. Although we all want our children and family members to live independent, successful, happy and fulfilling lives, sometimes the steps that we need to take to get them there are daunting. More often than not, families avoid taking the steps to help their child achieve independent living because they fear that they do not have the resources (financial, time, and otherwise) to contribute to the process.

Here at M&L, we understand completely. First of all, money: independent living is expensive, and many families worry that they don’t have the resources to help their family member maintain a household and cover daily living expenses. Then, comes the logistics – where will he or she live, and with who? Will supports be necessary? Will employment be possible? How will he or she spend daytime hours? What about recreational and social events? Who will organize these, and how will they be established?

In addition to the concerns regarding the logistics of independent living, many families with special needs worry about the other aspects of aging into adulthood and moving out of the family home – the potential loss of already established support networks, both in and outside the home. We all want our family members to live independently, but we do not want independent living to come at the expense of feeling supported, loved, and connected. We do not want to see our young adults achieve independent living only to live in isolation, cut off from their peers and the wider world.

So, what then is the answer? Well, if you are concerned about the finances involved with independent living, please check out the Services page of this website; M&L has a number of different planning strategies to help your family with special needs meet short and long term planning goals. As for the issue of isolation, the staff of M&L, and the people behind our non-profit organization Integrated Living Communities (ILO) are positive they have the answer: intentional communities. Please read on to learn more.

ILO, Intentional Communities & Community Building
We have all known the long loneliness and learned that the only solution is love, and that love comes with community. – Dorothy Day

We all know the importance of communities – feeling connected is beneficial to our emotional, mental and social health. The support systems that exist within communities help us navigate the challenges that life often throws at us, as well as helping to alleviate the stresses that accompany daily life. As well, communities have built in opportunities for socialization and recreation that are essential to living happy and fulfilled lives.

It is because communities are so important that M&L founder/owner Maedi Tanham Carney, CFP®, CWIC and a group of core founding families came together to create ILO, a 501c3 non-profit organization devoted to creating intentional communities for self-advocates (individuals with disabilities that wish to achieve independent living). It is ILO’s view that parents of individuals with special needs do not have the wide array of resources nor the knowledge needed to build and create communities for self-advocates that will be sustaining in the long term – ILO intends to create and facilitate these needed communities of peers and care givers that are connected to each and every self-advocate for the rest of their lives, even after the parents are gone.

Although a newly formed organization, ILO is already on the way to achieving these goals; one ILO self-advocate has already achieved independent living, and a number of others are in various stages of readiness as they progress through the process of moving out into their own homes. Community pods are being established in Germantown, Maryland and Washington, D.C. in which pod leaders are helping self-advocates live – connected to each other and the wider community -through Center for Independent Futures™’ Full Live Model™. In addition to this, the ILO Board of Directors and ILO participating families are in the process of forming a social committee that will use available resources to facilitate/organize/host different social and recreational outings for ILO self-advocates, siblings, parents, and other individuals in the community.

Through facilitating the networks of support that are the backbone of ILO, the organization itself becomes a community of participants – parents, self-advocates, family members, friends, special needs professionals, and community partners that will face the same challenges, celebrate successes and help overcome hurdles together, both now and well into the future.

Would You Like More Information?

If you would like to read more about ILO please select Integrated Living Opportunities from the drop-down menu titled Blog Categories on the right hand side of the webpage. As well, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time with any questions or suggestions you may have – we love talking about this organization and the goals we have set for its growth! M&L is also hosting a workshop on September 15th titled ILO: Where we Are Today, & How to Get Involved that you may wish to attend – please click here to register.

If you would like to become a part of ILO and join our expanding network of participating families, please let us know! We have a training session tentatively scheduled for February 2016 and would love to add your name to the waiting list! As well, stay tuned to M&L’s blog for ILO progress and announcements – among other things, updates regarding the launch of ILO’s website (projected to happen this fall) will be announced via M&L’s blogs.

Thanks again for taking the time to drop by our website today! We hope that you feel as strongly about creating communities for individuals with special needs as we do – until next time!

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