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Lori and Caleb: Family Services

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Respite and Relaxation for the Whole Family

Since her son Caleb recently turned 22, Lori Murphy has felt the effects of caring for an adult with a dual diagnosis of autism and Down syndrome more than ever. In recent months, Caleb has had to transition to adulthood without the comfortable, routine environment of school that he was used to, with regular opportunities to hang out with friends and enjoy social activies.

Lori and her husband Patrick are no longer eligible to receive respite provider funding – so when they saw that Advocates was providing a recreation series called Fun, Friends, and Family, they jumped on the chance to give Caleb some time out of the home, and to give themselves some time to relax as well.

“We’ve become more aware about the types of opportunities out there, what he might like to participate in, and be involved with,” Lori says. “It’s important for young adults to have their own life away from their nuclear families.”

Lori recently signed Caleb up for Advocates' Snow Ball Dance in Framingham. More than 75 teens and adults attended the dance with family, friends, and staff. Caleb attended with a respite provider that the Murphys have been using on an ongoing basis. With funds from a generous donor, Advocates was able to provide compensation for Caleb's respite provider. While Caleb and other dance attendees enjoyed pizza, a professional DJ, and dance games, Lori and her husband were able to enjoy a relaxing evening out, reassured that Caleb was being cared for and having fun.

Advocates recreational events include activities such as nature walks, bingo, Zumba, arts and crafts and more. Most are free or low cost, and some events offer the opportunity to apply for funds to compensate a respite provider, giving family caregivers some relief while their loved ones enjoy time with friends.

“Young adults on the autism spectrum have the same emotional and psychological needs as people without the diagnosis,” Lori says.” “They have the same need for the individuation process away from their parents. When Caleb has the opportunity to go out and be with friends, it boosts his self-esteem, and he takes pride in knowing that he has friends – these types of opportunities are just so important.”

Lori says the adult family supports from Advocates are “worth their weight in gold” because the staff understands Caleb’s needs and makes him feel comfortable out in the community. She explained that being the parent of a child with disabilities is especially jolting when they turn 22, so being able to drop her son off at activities and know that he’s secure and happy and has something beyond their families is “a weight off our shoulders.”

You can help fund recreation activities at Advocates by supporting our #summeroffun campaign.

To learn more about Advocates recreation events, visit www.Advocates.org/Events or contact FamilyServices@Advocates.org.