Challenging Transition to Adulthood for Marylanders With Disabilities

Capital News Service, December 4, 2013

FREDERICK – Like any mother of an active 20-year-old, Frederick County resident Michele Baisey has her hands full. But in addition to helping her son, Troy, balance school, work and home life, she faces a looming deadline that is unsettling for many parents in her position.

Troy Baisey, who was born prematurely, suffers from cerebral palsy and hearing loss. He is considered a “transitioning youth,” which means he will soon lose the guarantee of state assistance.

In Maryland, young adults with disabilities are entitled to public education until age 21. After that, families must apply for support through various programs and organizations. Services and financial assistance are contingent on eligibility requirements and the availability of funds.

It can be a frightening and overwhelming time for students with disabilities and their families, who are used to the structure and support of the public school system, said Mary Scott, a transition resource teacher for Baltimore County Public Schools.

“There’s no entitlement after you leave school,” Scott said. “It’s hard for parents to wrap their minds around that.”

Michele Baisey recalled the stress and pressure to complete multiple aid applications in a short amount of time starting when her son was a junior in high school.

“It was very overwhelming because it was so much all at once, and the applications are not short or by any means easy,” she said. “It’s looking back from birth and documenting and justifying everything medically … down to every doctor, every hospital, every medicine.”

As his mother navigates the state system, Troy Baisey is figuring out what he wants his future to look like. He had to modify his goals several times, like when he found out he would not be able to graduate high school with a diploma, or when he was told he may not be able to pursue his dream job of becoming a priest.

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