"If my son had been in a regular school system…he might be able to do some things he can’t do now."

About: Jeff (47)

Age Range: 36 to 59 years

Perspective: Student interview of parent

County: Davidson


The Family

Jeff is 47-years-old and was born with cerebral palsy. Jeff’s mother died two years ago, and Jeff currently lives with his dad.  Jeff has limited use of his legs and uses a walker. He also uses a motorized wheelchair when he has farther to go or feels tired. Jeff requires constant care and will never live by himself.

Jeff has two siblings, and his father reports that the family has strong bonds and remembers they really “pulled together to get through the surgeries” and other challenges when Jeff was born.

Jeff is a very personable and social person and loves to joke around. According to his dad, he can read at a high-school level but does not comprehend what he reads. He loves sports and always knows when a game is on television.  He can tell you about all the games, what happened, and who won. He has a great memory for remembering names and dates. He attends programming at an adult activity center everyday, where he and other individuals with cerebral palsy go bowling, see movies, and go out for meals.  Jeff also has participated in Special Olympics, engaging in events such as softball throwing and wheelchair races. He also paints and has entered some of his paintings in local art shows. He loves to go on walks around the neighborhood, and the community openly welcomes Jeff and accepts him for who he is.

Education

Jeff began attending a center that specializes in working with individuals with cerebral palsy at age five.  He travelled by bus 78 miles each day. For four or five years, he attended classes through a church. When Jeff’s school system tested him, they suggested that the family enroll him in an institution. The family was told that Jeff would never be able to attend a school or learn. The family did not agree and eventually he attended an elementary school in Franklin. When asked about the effectiveness of Jeff’s schooling, Jeff’s father replies that “it has been very effective for him,” but believes that “if he had been in a regular school system…he might be able to do some things he can’t do now.”

Health Care

Jeff receives money from government Medicare and Medicaid programs. He did not begin to receive Medicare until he was 20-years-old, because his parents did not realize he could receive it earlier. In the past few years, Jeff began the Medicaid waiver program, part of which allows for a trained person to come for two hours a week to stay at home with Jeff while his dad goes to Wednesday night activities at church.

It is a priority to keep Jeff walking as long as possible, because he knows Jeff enjoys it so much.  The doctors told the family that Jeff would be bedridden by age 18, but he is still walking with his walker at age 47. Also, money is a concern, since funding for the Medicare and Medicaid programs are constantly endangered.

The Future

Jeff’s father feels it is unfair to ask Jeff’s brother to take care of Jeff in the future. It is a huge responsibility and he is concerned about the changes it would inevitably have on their family’s life. However, his son insists that he and his wife will take Jeff.

Updated on Thursday, November 3, 2011