Finally, Kirby Adam is home

To read on Community Living Ontario website:

Family shares how determination can lead to a good life

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Kirby Adam is home – his own, in Pembroke – because of the journey he’s been on with his parents for two decades.

How they got there was the story his parents, Claude and Noreene, shared with attendees at a family forum in Welland hosted by Community Living Welland Pelham and Community Living Ontario back in January.

Claude told Update Friday that “it was a big struggle” to find what worked for Kirby, particularly when it came to his living arrangements. “It took a long time to get there,” but perseverance was the key.

Kirby had lived in many different places and often had housemates, but his parents knew that he felt most comfortable when he had his own space. So they searched for a house, found one near his parents’ home, and the family came together as a renovation team to make the house a home for Kirby.

Along with a strong support system from Community Living Upper Ottawa Valley staff and personally hired companions, Kirby has created connections with neighbours, developed friendships and found a place in community.

For parents on a similar journey, Noreene says it’s important to listen to your child “with all of your senses.”

Kirby is talkative now, but that was not always the case.

“A little shrug or the eyes downcast if something wasn’t to his liking, or the mild nod of his head if there was something he wanted” was often more important than words, says Noreene.

“It’s also finding the balance of things,” she continues. “If you want to have a life and keep on going, you have to keep working at it. I can’t give up on him. He’s my son.”

Another parental suggestion is to make room for mistakes.

“I think that was almost a freedom we didn’t give him, the right to make a mistake,” she adds.

After being ill about seven years ago, Noreene realized then that she didn’t have to worry so much.

“We managed just fine and it dawned on me, ‘He’s going to be okay.’”

And it was more than okay, as Kirby has found “fantastic neighbours and friends who care about him. If someone does call, they aren’t calling to complain about anything he did. They are concerned [about his well-being].”

For both Claude and Noreene, the message to parents is to “keep on trying” to find housing, employment, and opportunities for community engagement for their adult children, but to be realistic about the rough patches and to adopt a one day at a time outlook.

“We’re here today, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a problem tomorrow. So we’ll tackle it when it happens.”

The Adams’ path to a good life for Kirby, as well as other wonderful successes of adult children who have an intellectual disability, can be found in Kirby’s Lane, a collection of stories compiled by Community Living Ontario.

To make arrangements for a copy of the book, email us at info@communitylivinontario.ca.

– Viv Snead, Community Living Ontario

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