Kim & Mike Buda knew finding a home and creating a plan for their son Ryan would have its challenges but were committed in knowing that Ryan having his own home was what was best for him. After connecting with Upstate Special Needs Consulting and later TouchStream Solutions, they were able to create a successful living situation and are helping Ryan meet his full potential more and more each day.
What prompted you to move?
‘We felt we were not going any further in the situation we were in. I (Kim) wanted to take the situation under our control where we could make good choices as a family as to what was best for Ryan.. We were in the framework of an institution that didn’t work for us. In his group home, Ryan couldn’t comfortably play his games, relax or have his own space. I was also worried that he wasn’t learning the type of skills around living independently that we wished for him to have. Since moving out, we have worked on tasks like how to write a check and pay bills. In our previous group home situation there was no mechanism to teach or refine skills like that and we did not want Ryan to be dependent on others.’
What were your biggest challenges in this process?
‘There were not so many challenges as there were more learning curves. Remembering to check the mail, take out the garbage, regularly test smoke detectors, sweep the walk are all things we have had to build skills around.’
What were your biggest fears?
‘Acceptance in the community. We wondered if we should tell people he is autistic. Luckily we have great neighbors and everyone has been welcoming.’
What has it been like since he has moved out?
‘Ryan wanted to be able to go where he wanted and needed to be close to things. Since he doesn’t own a car we knew a community with safe walking areas was very important. Since moving out, Ryan has joined a gym, went on his own to the DMV to obtain a non-drivers ID and learned how to use an ATM card. He walks to church and back home on his own. Community hab helps him get to things like hair cut appointments and places that are beyond a reasonable walking distance.
What role has TouchStream Solutions played?
‘TouchStream has been very user friendly. From a purely organizational standpoint we are in a better place. The technology allows there to be checklists and structure for Ryan to follow. We have been working on safety. We have regular fire drills thanks to plans by Prevention 1st and TouchStream. We talk about not just safe evacuation but how to put out a small fire. TouchStream prompts Ryan each month on how to do safety checks.
The features are very amazing! (Ryan)
I (Mike) was so impressed by the blood pressure, pill reader and scale features. Even if we do not need them right now, I am reassured knowing that we have that in place should some day we need medical management.’
What role has Upstate Special Needs Consulting played?
There are a lot of things no one tells you. James and the USNC team have helped us navigate benefits in a way we could understand. Even if it was just knowing how to fill out forms the correct way. James always kept the whole picture in mind while we were doing long term planning. The USNC team has been our necessary backup. Someone from the team always answered our calls and we never worried if someone would get back to us. James would call us on the road and even after hours.
It was the best money we ever spent—it has given us peace of mind. (Mike)
Things constantly change and we had a fear of is this the right thing? Is this best for Ryan? USNC has a comforting way in understanding how and what to keep in place to support the long term.
What would you say to parents who are looking to go off on their own?
People need to be prepared that a lot is on you. Don’t assume everyone else is going to take care of things. The sooner the better you are in planning.