Finding safety and sense of self in new home

IMG_20160602_175233No one knows how to best care for Shawn and Dusty, both of whom are autistic and require a great deal of assistance, better than their caregiver, Phyllis — a loving mother and grandmother who has worked with the pair for the past 20 years.

Shawn and Dusty made a life-changing transition upon moving into their new home a few months ago, which was acquired and is managed by the Housing Network of Hamilton County. According to Phyllis, the move is the greatest thing to ever happen to the two and can most fittingly be described as “a blessing from God.”

Shawn and Dusty’s old home is one Phyllis describes as being “unsuited for nurturing a safe and caring living environment.” She remembers nights where she would awaken to hear sounds of “pop-pop” and “bang-bang,” as gunfire could be heard on the streets nearby. Shawn and Dusty would often have outbursts, she says, which resulted from the amount of noise brought upon by the neighborhood.

IMG_20160602_175315On top of constant worry regarding the safety of Shawn, Dusty, and herself, Phyllis also had concerns regarding the safety of the property itself. Nightly, she was forced to chain the patio furniture in an effort to prevent theft.

After moving into their new home, however, Shawn and Dusty are living what Phyllis refers to, plain and simply, as “the life.” They are able to spend time outside without having to worry about traffic and violence; the only people they encounter during day-to-day activities are friendly neighbors — perhaps an elderly couple walking their dog — and the home is quiet, which has led to fewer distractions and outbursts.

Shawn and Dusty have acquired a newfound sense of belonging and independence, as they were forced to share their former home with two other housemates. According to Phyllis, the move has positively affected their lives on all accounts. Dusty and Shawn can now feel safe and at peace in their home, and for that, Phyllis is eternally grateful.