It was a hard decision to write this because my family is very humble and proud but our family has endured one of the biggest set backs we have had to face.
My brother Spencer is 14; He is a caring, affectionate, playful and handsome boy; He also has severe autism. Spencer is unable to speak, or care for himself. My Dad and Step mom have been his sole caretakers.
My step mom quit her well paying job when Spencer was diagnosed to stay home and care for him and went back to work part time in 2014. My parents never complained and although they were mentally and physically exhausted they provided the best home for Spencer and my little sister Alanna. They advocated for the needs of their kids and received the highest level of care that was available to them in NJ. The care available is minimal and a lot of families with children like Spencer ultimately have to make the decision to place their child in a group home so they can obtain the 24 hour care that is often required. My parents refused to send Spencer to a home for fear of abuse or neglect and also because he is their child and they could not fathom not having their child at home with them.
In October of 2016 they made the hardest decision they have ever had to make and they sent Spencer to live in a Crisis Stabilization Group Home in South NJ the closest home available; which was 4 hours away from their home. While it was a difficult decision they knew it was for the best because as Spencer was growing into a young man physically and keeping him safe was a difficult task. My parents entrusted Spencer's care to a well know and highly respected group home. They would visit him nearly weekly, they would go there for every holiday and special event taking Alanna on a 12 to 14 hour adventure which was not only exhausting but financially overwhelming. Both of my parents began to work full time. In February my dad was inexplicably fired and yet they still remained humble.
Then On June 5th they received a phone call that would forever scar them. Spencer had been assaulted by a staff member at the group home. My parents made the decision to go to the home to see Spencer and once they saw the extent of his injuries they decided to take him home. Criminal charges have been filed and the road ahead is very long. Now Spencer and my family are right back where they started. My step mom will need to take a leave of absence from her job without pay and my dad will need to cut his hours. It will take weeks to months to get a plan in place that will be acceptable for his care. Applying for social security benefits will takes months and in the meanwhile there will only be part time income available to sustain their household. They need help financially!!
Please consider donating and sharing Spencer's story.
- Joseph Reigal
- Michael Farrelly
- Wendy Augustine
- Beth Jensen