Independent Living for Adults with Disabilities

 January 5, 2017
Posted by M&LAdmin4

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hello everyone, and welcome back to our blog! Thanks for taking the time to visit our website today. As you all know, M&L’s non-profit, Integrated Living Opportunities (ILO) is dedicated to building intentional, integrated and inclusive communities for adults with disabilities. Today they published a great blog about how ILO helps families create safe, productive, independent living options for their young adults with disabilities. We have shared it below – enjoy!


A few months ago, we came across a touching open letter titled, A Letter to my Autistic Son about Where You Will Live as an Adult, written by Kim McCafferty. The letter is a soul-searching account of a parent’s struggle with her special needs family’s “collective future,” i.e. “where you will live, where Daddy and I want to live…and where your brother, who is also autistic, fits into the picture too.” McCafferty, with grace and humor, lays bare her emotions as she muses about her special needs journey. Throughout the piece, she provides examples of possible outcomes, i.e. “shared living”, “group homes”, or “sheltered workshops.” She toys the idea of either keeping her child at home forever so she can be at peace or finding an independent living option so she can have some breathing space. She sums it up nicely at the end by stating, simply, “it’s complicated.”

Confronting the future is something that we – as parents of individuals with disabilities – all struggle with. Our individual special needs journeys may be difficult, expensive, stressful and (sometimes) overwhelming, but we will do everything we possibly can for our loved ones. The true struggle, the question that we all grapple with on sleepless nights, isn’t about what we are doing today. Rather, it is about who will do it when we are gone. That question is why Integrated Living Opportunities (ILO) was created.

ILO Intentional Communities – Where We Came From

Integrated Living Opportunities is a 501c3 certified organization devoted to helping families in the Metropolitan DC area build intentional, integrated communities that enable safe, productive, independent living options for their young adults with disabilities.

The organization was founded by Maedi Tanham Carney, CFP®, CWIC. Carney is the founder/owner of a special needs planning business M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC. She is also the parent of a young adult with disabilities. Through both of these roles, she identified the need for living options that were inclusive, sustainable, affordable, and community-based. It was her dream to create an organization that helped parents build intentional communities that matched those criteria. First and foremost a parent, Carney also struggled with the question of what would happen to her daughter once she was gone. As a result, she also dreamed of creating networks of support that surround the individual with disabilities now and in the future when the parents/primary caregivers are gone. From this dream, ILO was born.

To read more about the history ILO, please click here.

ILO – What We Do

At, ILO first and foremost, we help participating families and self-advocates create inclusive, intentional communities, by providing the training and guidance to build from the ground up. We assist with the establishment of supports and staffing for the self-advocates once that have achieved independent living. We help create (and then facilitate) networks of support so self-advocates can integrate into communities and live successful well-rounded lives. We arrange and oversee social and educational activities that support these individuals, and we also offer assistance with long term planning.

We know from our research and experience that integrated communities for adults with disabilities can be created and be successful. To help others get a clear idea of how ILO’s intentional communities function, we created a fictional scenario using real places, activities, and services in the Washington, D.C. area. This scenario – titled Meet Pete and Darren – is a hypothetical case study of two self-advocates transitioning to independence with the support of ILO. In addition, please read our blog from 12/1/16 with the actual story of one of our self-advocates who has moved to the Crossings in Gaithersburg, MD: Big Moves: ILO Self Advocates Achieve Independent Living. If you are interested in more detail about the services that can help make supported independence a possibility, please visit our Services web page.

How to Join ILO

If you or your family member with disabilities would like to learn more about our organization, we strongly encourage you to contact us. We would love to meet you and learn about the hopes and dreams you have for your family with special needs. You may also take a moment to browse our website – our About Page shares our mission, our vision, and introduces visitors to our Board of Directors and our Advisory Council. Our Building Community Page introduces you to our community pods, the concept of building partnerships, and the future of ILO, and our Resources page provides a wealth of information on issues and organizations that are relevant to the special needs community.

Thanks again for taking the time to visit our website – we hope that you have learned a little bit about the process of creating intentional communities for your adult family member with disabilities. If you would like more information about the work that we do at ILO, or about how our networks of support can help your family member with disabilities achieve independent living in an intentional and inclusive community, please reach out. As well, stay tuned to our blog – in the coming weeks we will be releasing more information future ILO training sessions, fundraisers, and social events and we would love for you to join us.



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