Like most parents, Lake Highlands resident Kathy Heim worries about her child’s future.
But her worries go beyond college and careers. Her son, who attends Lake Highlands High School, has a learning disability, and she worries how he will live when he graduates in May.
“It’s a scary situation,” Heim says. “My son wants to be independent, and you’re saying, ‘Oh my gosh.’”
To help her provide her son with the best possible future, Heim joined the Parent Transition Information Team last fall. The team was recently started by RISD parents of children with physical and mental disabilities.
The organization works to provide a forum and one-stop information source for parents whose children have disabilities.
“There are just a lot of things out there that you just don’t know about,” Heim says. “We’re just trying to make the transition easier on the parents and children.”
Harold Mayes, who is another parent involved with the team, started searching for services and information when his son was 16. Mayes says he knew he needed to do something when his son was in junior high and not developing basic survival skills, such as telling time or making change.
But finding services for his son, who is mentally retarded and is now 21, has not always been easy. He attended conferences and lectures, but much of the information didn’t pertain to his son’s needs. Still, he was able to scrape together lots of useful information.
The purpose of the team is to make this quest for resources and services easier for parents, Heim says. The meetings give parents an opportunity to share information and experiences, and also provide experts discussing various topics pertaining to their children’s needs.
“I would like this child to do what he wants to do,” Heim says. “That’s what every parent wants. You just want the very best for your child and you want to know what that is.”