By Anne Marie Fantin, Windsor Star January 29, 2011
Re: Families being left without support, by Christina Holley, Dec. 8.
I have two children. My son, Eric, is 18 years old and he has an intellectual disability.
Last year, he graduated from high school with a diploma, but I am very concerned about his life now. There are not many options.
He can either stay in school until he is 21, collect Ontario Disability Income Support or find a job. My son has said that he does not want to sit at home,
watch TV and collect ODIS.
It is extremely sad that these are his only choices at the moment. Funding for support is non-existent and jobs, especially for people who have an intellectual disability, are far and few between.
I have spent many nights crying, wondering and worrying about Eric.
I am concerned about my daughter as well. My whole family has been impacted by Eric’s disability and it is extremely stressful.
A typical day for me includes wondering how does my daughter feel about having a brother with a disability? How does she feel when Eric requires more attention than she does?
How does she feel when she is responsible for putting Eric on the bus, getting him off the bus, making sure it’s the right bus?
Is Eric getting to school on time? Is he getting to class on time? Is he going to the right class?
Did he have breakfast before school? Is he eating lunch and is he having dinner with friends?
I wonder if she is angry, sad or resentful.
What can I do to make things better? Quit my job? Change jobs? Change shifts? What do I do? Where do I go? Who is going to help?
It’s true that all parents worry about their children but for parents who have a child who has a disability, our concerns are extraordinary and the support
needs are ongoing. There is no dream of retirement and having a life of our own.
I am fortunate and forever grateful that I was introduced to Ensemble and Community Living Essex County at a seminar I had attended last year. The seminar was to provide parents with information to help kids with disabilities and their families transition after high school.
It is with the help of these two programs that I have been introduced to other families that feel some of the same pain and anxiety I have. I have been
given helpful information and have been introduced to many people who have been instrumental in helping Eric and I make the transition.
The bottom line for me is this — the lack of funding to support individuals and families who have a child with a disability.
There is inadequate information and guidance for our sons and daughters to make empowering decisions about their lives.
I believe it is a collaborative effort between families, professionals and organizations but as a parent, I hear it all the time, “There is no money.”
Why should my son be any different than my daughter in how they live their lives? The difference is, my son depends on financial, emotional, physical and social assistance from others, where my daughter has so many more choices at her fingertips.
I heard the Hon. David C. Onley — Ontario’s lieutenant-governor — say, “We as a society create handicaps toward people with a disability.”
Adequate funding for adult people who have a disability would be a very important investment by our government. It would ensure that all people could have a meaningful life and participate as full citizens and contribute to the economic growth of our society.
Anne Marie Fantin, Leamington
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