Last August, we moved Ben into an alternative family living (AFL) placement, about 90 minutes from our home in Charlotte. It was a three-bedroom house and Ben was given the largest bedroom with its own bathroom. A typical AFL in North Carolina operates like this: a person with disabilities, the client, moves in with another family, couple or an individual. The client lives in the family’s home and the family receives payment in return for housing, feeding and caring for the client. Ben’s AFL was unusual: A couple with extensive caregiving experience wanted to run a three-bed group home but needed to apply for the license through the state. They were willing to take Ben as the first resident in a house, separate from the one they lived in. The plan, according to the couple, was to get approval for the group home within a couple of months. We ordered Ben a double bed, headboard, 54-inch television, new sheets, towels and blankets. Friends helped us move him in. By mid-March, Ben re
These stories describe our journey with Ben, our oldest son. Ben is a sweet and energetic redhead, born with a rare genetic mutation. My husband, Ryan, and I try to keep up with Ben and his two younger brothers. I intend to shed insight into raising a child with disabilities and pass on the wisdom we’ve earned over the past two decades.