Lakeland, Florida – Our Michael is 19yrs old. Michael was born premature and lives with Cerebral Palsy and non-verbal Autism. Michael requires support for all daily living skills. I am a school board member in Polk and my husband Bob is a real estate broker. Michael has one younger sister, Evie.
Our goal is that Michael has meaningful engagement and participation in his community while remaining safe and supported.
Although Mike does not have language, he uses his iPad to communicate some of his basic wants and needs. It takes support from someone who can help him navigate the pictures.
Unfortunately, Michael exhibits severe self injury by hitting his head with his fist. He will create contusions on his forehead and behind his ear. We use behavior specialists and personal care assistants to block the hitting. This can often take two people to help reduce the injury. We are working to reduce the self-injurious behavior and increase his communication.
Michael will need supports for the rest of his life. He is currently using the Budget waiver (Medicaid Home and Community Based Services waiver or HCBS waiver).
As Michael ages, his level of support will increase.
Beyond the need to fund the waitlist, there is a significant need to increase the rates of direct support staff. People living with developmental disabilities rely on these individuals for their safety, health and happiness. We need you to be the voice of the people in your community who often cannot speak for themselves.