My family was impacted in a big way. My brother, Shannon had significant behavior concerns. It was an extreme challenge to keep him safe. It became a 24 hour a day job to keep him safe and to teach him new skills. By age 6 there were major concerns for safety and quality of life. My parents were overwhelmed. My dad came to my mom and said, “we have to make a decision. We either have to place Shannon in a residential placement or place Jewell up for adoption. We can’t continue to raise both kids. We are not being able to give either child quality of life.” My mom began crying and said, “You are asking me to choose which child I’m going to give away! How is that a solution?”. Both my parents knew that it wasn’t a solution but they were out of options. So, my parents made the toughest decision of their lives. They decided to place Shannon in residential placement. My parents were devastated.
I would love to say things worked out. Some things did like my sister and I devoted our entire careers to helping children with special needs. But some things did not work out like
Shannon suffering abuse and his untimely death under suspicious circumstances, all while in residential care.
Because of Shannon’s life, I worked in public education for 25 years. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in education and a Master of Arts degree in Applied Behavior Analysis. I was also an administrator in a school created for children with severe autism. I was often frustrated because I could see what families needed and my hands were tied.
My breaking point came when I was talking to a mom. She told me she had a 12-year-old son with severe autism and a 5-year-old daughter. She explained with tears in her eyes that she was considering placing her son in residential placement because she wasn’t able to keep both kids safe or give them a quality of life. Here we were, 50 years after my parents were forced to make that decision and other parents were still facing the same dilemma.
I had to do something! With my background in design and construction and my love and passion for helping kids with autism, I decided to combine the two to help families in their homes by providing resources. But there was 1 problem, normally while working on a home, a family could stay in a hotel but this is not an option for the families I will be helping. Hotels are scary for these families. They are afraid their child will get away from them and get to the parking lot or to the pool. They fear their child might climb furniture in the hotel room that is not bolted down. They also are scared their child might have a meltdown because of being in a new environment and due to the noise, the hotel staff will ask them to leave.
So, I came up with a solution. I created the concept of Shannon’s House, if my family had this house, Shannon would have stayed with us forever. Shannon’s House is a home that removes the worries families have about safety in a new environment. It provides opportunities like a splash pad, pool, hot tub, theater, sensory playground, outdoor entertainment spaces that families often miss out on due to behavior concerns. It will have sensory equipment to help regulate behaviors. Each element has been well developed so that families will have a once in a lifetime experience at Shannon’s House.
This is a BIG project that cannot be done without your support. Help us make this once in a lifetime opportunity a reality for these families. God bless you and thanks a million!
Donate now to bring hope to hundreds of struggling families.
Tracy Lynn, BCaBA
Designer, CEO/Founder of Shannon’s House
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