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A Dad Asks If Putting His 8-Year-Old Autistic Child In A Group Home Is 'Always Bad' — 'I'm Tired, Really Tired & I Want To Move On'

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Father with child on his back

A tired, struggling father online penned a question to Quora, a popular question-and-answer website where anyone can ask a question and receive answers from strangers. The father’s question was in regard to his problems raising his 8-year-old son.

Parenting is no easy feat, but it seems as though this father is having a much harder time of it. So much so, he’s considering giving his son up, but wondered what people’s thoughts of it were.

The single father asked if he should put his autistic 8-year-old son in a group home.

“Is a group home for children always horrible?” he asks on Quora. “I am a single father raising my severely autistic child for the past 8 years by myself. I have [had] him since he was two. I am tired, really tired and I want to move on.”

Being a parent is hard, being a single parent even harder, but parenting a child with severe autism could prove to be especially challenging. And clearly, this father is having a very tough time with it. It has gotten him to the point where he is considering placing his son into a group home.

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A group home is a living accommodation option for people with disabilities. The hope is that a group home would be a better fit for his son, considering that’s what they’re there for, but they often get a bad rap.

The reason is that there have been countless reports and rumors of people experiencing abuse and neglect within these homes. In December 2022, the Office of Inspector General with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched a series of audits and discovered that residents within these homes often experienced serious injuries and medical conditions that resulted in emergency room visits.

Up to 99% of these critical incidents had not been reported to law enforcement or state agencies as required.

So, that’s why the father asked: are they really all bad? Could it be worse than what the father is capable of giving his own son at the moment?

The top response gave a beautiful insight into the possibilities group homes offer.

A woman named Cindy May took the top spot as the main answer to this single father’s question, and she laid out a beautiful story about her oldest daughter who had cerebral palsy.

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She too was a single mother and raised her daughter until she was 16. Before then, she struggled for a very long time trying to get help with raising her. She tried everything, but nothing seemed to work until she decided to admit her into a group home.

“I made the hardest decision I ever had to make and that was to place her in a group home. I placed her when she was 16 years old,” she explains. “She went to a fabulous group home. She had opportunities to live as a normal teen and do normal things.”

She said that it had actually become more difficult to find her at home once she was admitted. “Friday nights were football games. They took her to movies, concerts, etc. She went to the beach with the group home,” she says. “I still visited her.”

Unfortunately, her daughter passed away from ovarian cancer at the age of 35, but May says that putting her in the group home was the “best thing I could have ever done.”

A New York Times article reports that 66% of working parents meet the criteria for parental burnout. As May says, “No one should ever shame a parent if they have never walked in their shoes... It’s not a walk in the park and it’s not giving up your child or disposing of them. There is only so much one person can do. The burn out is very very real when doing it alone.”

Hopefully, the father gains insight from the people offering support and advice on his post.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor for YourTango who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics.